Back to the market, with much better results. Three healthy bunches of radishes for £1, a very substantial broccoli for 50p, and even some organic bananas.
I cycled round town, and superimposed the track on a filtered version of a street map.
Perhaps Birmingham was once a group of radish fields clustered along the sandstone ridge, with myriad paths branching out and looping back round them. Perhaps, instead of cycling past warehouses and office blocks, I was making a circuit of all the vegetable patches, and stopping in at the market where present meets past.
There are times I go to the city centre fruit & veg market thinking I’ll get a really good deal on something; like the two very superior bunches of celery I got for £1 this past Saturday. Big, crisp, not at all bitter. One went straight into the soup pot, along with some sautéed onion, some grilled courgette, and a lacing of cumin. The first soup for colder weather, and very satisfying in its way.
But there are times I go to the market and come away with something only to discover it really belongs in the compost; like the bag of peaches I bought this past Saturday.
Why, when I’m looking at soft produce, do I let myself think that it’s going to be any good? Sure, they mostly look pretty good on the outside, are neither too firm nor too soft. But when I get home and slice them open, I find them dry, mealy and verging on rotten. If they weren’t also flavourless, I’d find some use for them. But as they are, they’ll become filler for something like apple compote. Or compost.
I’ve had this experience with avocadoes, mangoes, papayas, oranges, cucumbers, and even apples and pears. With avocadoes, I’ve learnt that one takes one’s chances, so it’s best to only spend money that I’m willing to waste. But maybe that should be the bye word for the market. It’s not a place to get fresh vegetables at good prices. It’s where the nearly rotten stuff gets flogged to those of us who don’t care or aren’t wary enough.
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