There was a time in my life when Sunday meant sitting down with my Dinner Diary and mapping out a meal plan for the week. Like this line-up from June 14-18, 2004:
I remember telling a food editor friend about my meal-planning system and her response was not the usual “Why again do you record this stuff in a diary?” but this: “Well what happens if you see a big shiny eggplant at the market on Tuesday afternoon? Are you going to just pass that up if it’s not in the plan for Tuesday night?” She said the word “plan” like she was holding a dirty diaper.
And I remember thinking: How is that a relevant question? Who goes to the market on a Tuesday? Who has time to think about anything but work and Elmo and the soonest possible moment you can rest your face on a pillow (remember: This was 2004; two kids under two) let alone wander a farmer’s market hoping eggplant inspiration will strike. On a Tuesday. (I also remember thinking: Such a huge bummer that Andy does not like eggplant.)
The truth is, as much as I wished I was the kind of person with the kind of life that allowed me to regularly saunter though the market and see what was fresh, what was in season, what inspired me, what I was in the mood for at that very second, I just wasn’t. I’m 50% Italian but I’m 100% American, and instead of first shopping, then planning, I liked things the other way around: First the planning, then the shopping. Even now, seven years later when I’m no longer suffering from clinical exhaustion as it relates to toddlers, I still don’t find myself at the farmer’s market on a Tuesday (or any weekday) unless I plan really really well — and unless there’s no ballet or soccer that week. From June through November, the only day you’ll consistently find me at the farmer’s market is on Saturday. And even then, for me it’s not as much about the shiny eggplant (though I do set aside time for the wandering and the ogling) as it is about the fact that it’s Saturday. Saturday morning, to be specific — a whole glorious weekend stretching out before us. A whole glorious morning to walk to the market with the girls and the dog, grab a good cup of coffee (grown-ups), eat a few powdered sugar doughnuts (kids) on a bench overlooking the Hudson River, catch up with friends who are doing the same thing, and stuff our market bags with whatever looks good. And then, when we get home, we come up with a plan.
Market Report: June 12
Dinners we’re thinking about this week now that we’ve hit the market: Spaghetti with the Little Necks we bought from our Hampton Bays fish guy; Grilled sausage coil, maybe over warm arugula with grilled lemons; definitely something with those baby zucchini and definitely on Wednesday when Andy is out (he loves zucchini about as much as he loves eggplant); we got a bunch of asparagus so perhaps that springy asparagus and pasta I haven’t made since last May according to my diary!? The bushel of sugar snap peas will stay on the counter for grabbing and snacking and tossing on the dinner plate as the girls’ token greens. By the time this post goes live, I’m sure they will be gone.