My friends the Amish farmers are back at our local Greenmarket on Cook Street. I’ve been anticipating their arrival for a month now, actually more than eight months, since they left the last week of November.
Their produce is the best, I especially love their tomatoes, and you can’t beat their prices. At the Union Square greenmarket you can pay up to $5.50 a pound for hothouse tomatoes that have very little flavor. I did get some decent ones last week, but they were the first ones I got there all summer that actually tasted like tomatoes. I keep getting suckered by the deep red color.
The Amish farmer’s tomatoes run $2 a pound, and they are ripe and tasty. They also have the best cantaloupe and watermelons. It’s too early in the season for the yellow insides watermelons, but I wait patiently for the delicately different flavor they ooze of.
Today I looked up Cook Street from Manhattan Avenue as I went to the Food Bazaar to pick up some sparkling mineral water, our staple drink; and there they were! The big truck driven by a Mennonite neighbor of the Amish family, and their white tents. I picked up my three bottles of Güttig mineral water (I usually get more but they weigh 2.5 pounds each) and made a beeline up Cook Street to greet my Amish friends.
This is the Mennonite driver chilling out.
The patriarch, a big blond guy with forearms like hawsers was not there, only three women and the two boys. The boys have wispy whiskers now, so they have to be 13-14 years old. There are two young girls around the same age, with their little white bonnets and ankle length blue dresses. The boys wear big straw hats and suspenders over their white button less shirts.
There is an older woman, a little plump with wire rimmed glasses, but I can’t tell if she is the mother or older sister to the others, she looks like she could be anywhere from 25 to 45; so she could be either.
I picked out a cantaloupe first, and I asked the melon boy (he’s always by the melons) if he minded if I took pictures of the produce. I didn’t want to ask if I could take pictures of them so I used an Internet picture for the featured image. I know they have breaking Amish on TV, and some do let you take their pictures, but I try to be polite and kind to people, respect whatever beliefs they have.
They have giant cucumbers, 2 for a dollar, and the lovely Danusia is on a cucumber kick so I got a couple of those. I got a bunch of pimply kirbys, I’m going to try my hand at pickle making. Danusia tried with some cucumbers that had already seeded, and she didn’t get the best result. I looked on line and read that the small pimply kirbys are best for pickling.
They had so much; jalpeños, peaches, corn, squash, zucchini, green beans, blueberries, cabbage, but no lettuce. I forgot to get lettuce from one of the other farmers; I’m going to have to go back.
Yes, there are other stands, most of them South Americans, and one Russian woman and her daughter. The Russian woman brings fresh eggs. I buy form the others, as well, but the Amish are my favorites.
As I was picking out some peaches the patriarch arrived with breakfast. It was a little after 7am and I wondered how long they’d been on the road from Pennsylvania. Breakfast was MacDonald’s! He had a big bag with sugary drinks and Egg McMuffins for the crew. I have to mention that dad smokes as well. He smokes these cheroots that look handmade; maybe he grows tobacco too.
I greeted him with a hearty “welcome back!” He smiled his thanks and nodded his head.
They are a very pleasant but shy people, and I remember one Christmas he’d brought a bunch of trees up, and set up on the same corner of Cook Street and Graham Avenue. The following summer I asked if he’d done OK with the trees and he told me no, he wasn’t going to try it again. It was a shame because I got a beautiful, fresh almost seven-foot tree from him for only twenty bucks. A tree like that in Manhattan would have cost $75 from the French Canadian chiselers that dominate the Christmas tree market.
I remember the first time I saw the Amish when we moved into the neighborhood seven years ago. The patriarch was wielding a 2-foot machete and cutting up watermelon, offering slices skewered on the end of the machete to the customers. I figured if somebody tried to rob them they could end up with out a hand, he was so skillful at chopping with that thing.
I’ve been in love with them since, and I go every Saturday to get my week’s supply of tomatoes. I wrote a post about their tomatoes last summer, look it up in the blog roll if you are so inclined.
I got some of the sweet corn, 2 for a dollar, and of course my tomatoes. I chatted with the mysteriously aged woman who asked how my winter had been as she weighed and tallied up my purchases.
“Did you have a cold winter?” She asked in her sort of German accent.
“It wasn’t too bad, not too cold,” I said.
“But it was sort of empty without you guys here. I’m glad you are back.”
“Thank you, we’re glad to be back.”
“See you next Saturday!”
“OK, see you.”
Maybe next Saturday I’ll get some of the jalapeños, make some homemade salsa for my upcoming birthday party. It’s going to have a Mexican theme.