The “n” word

The “N” word.  It’s not a bad word, necessarily, but it can bring out some tough emotions.  Sometimes I tend to block it out to avoid the stream of longing yet other times I embrace it and thank the Lord that I had the experience.  You know the saying,

Nostalgia.

It’s been one of those weeks where I’ve been sorting through boxes, putting Christmas decorations away,  trying to decide what to do with/how to store my collection of teacher things, and dancing with memories.

Places I’ve lived keep popping up in conversation or in those boxes.

Hampton Court Palace, one of Henry VIII’s residences my family frequently visited near our old home in Surrey, England came up in conversation this week.  It was our go-to place for the friends and family who visited us during our 3-year stint in the UK.  In fact, in some odd way, we felt we somehow knew the Tudor Family.  This joggle of memory of royal families and castles led me to check out the PBS series, Downton Abbey.  A different century, but the verdant Yorkshire countryside illuminated by the comforting grey skies was as breathtaking on film as I remember watching go by in our teal Renault.

Also, a topic of conversation at Bible study this week was the meticulous process of growing grapes, taking me back to the days of living at the edge of wine country in Northern California.

One morning on our way to the Y, Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers” CD that Choco must have popped in the player brought me back to the sticky yet toned left forearm (I’m a southpaw) that results from scooping ice cream (and frozen yogurt!) for hours.

Stucci’s, a local ice cream shop, was one of my first jobs on campus while attending college in the great town of Ann Arbor.  That particular album seemed to be one of the State Street store’s manager’s favorites, as Petty along with U2, would keep us company during our shifts.  Mint Oreo fro-yo, yum.  Oh, those corner flavors were hard to scoop — literally!

But this is supposed to be a Friday Feature, right?  I’m getting there…

So, as was the spirit of the week, I dove into this wonderful book, full knowing that I would be back crossing the Bay days before I would be welcoming a baby boy (the Bug) into the world, tasting the deliciousness that is a Taylor’s (now Gott’s) burger, spotting an acquaintance from one of my three high schools working in the knife department of Sur La Table, taking cover from the rain on a pit stop for lunch on the way home from SFO, scrambling to find some milk for the Bug at Cowboy Creamery, wondering what the hype was about Blue Bottle Coffee, tasting the Scharfenberger green chile chocolate, trying to capture the vibrance of the heirloom tomatoes and greens, attempting to keep a toddler by my side amidst the distractions of sights, smells, and sounds of an ocean of people, enjoying one last hour of tea at Peet’s with a dear friend on our way back to SFO…

I knew it was dangerous to open this book.

The San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market Cookbook.  

Let me first say that you do not have to love the City by the Bay to enjoy this cookbook.  It’s an excellent guide on choosing produce, as the subtitle indicates:

A Comprehensible Guide to Impeccable Produce.

Comprehensible, it is.  The book guides you through the four seasons and a myriad of common and not-so-common fruits & veggies, as well as a selection of recipes and snapshots of the various vendors at the plaza.

Much of the produce mentioned in this book I had not tasted until living in the Bay Area despite living in the Garden State off and on for several years.  For example, there’s the Meyer lemon, an incredible sweet form of the fruit.  The book quotes Art Lange of Honeycrisp Farm”

San Franciscans love Meyer Lemons.  For every one box I sell at the Beverly Hills Market, I sell twenty at the Ferry Plaza market.

A great feature of the book is that it tells you how to choose, prepare, and store your produce.

A big shout out to my sister-in-law who broke the “no presents for adults” rule this Christmas for this beautiful book and the equally beautiful memory-laden path I followed this week (and in this post).