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December 4, 2022

Farmers’ market musings

Mary Kelley
Food,Inc. and Julie and Julia
A few weeks ago, I saw Food, Inc. at the Raven; only five other
people were in tiny theater One. After Bruce Springsteen sang Woody
Guthrie’s, “This Land is Your Land” at the end of the film, I
walked out feeling passionate about our Farmers’ Market, and
cornered two friends who were exiting the theater with us. “Would
you like to help out with the Zucchini Fest again this year?” I
could tell from their expression that they did not see the
connection between the message of the movie … support local,
sustainable agriculture … and the Zucchini Fest. So I will explain
As zany as the Zucchini Fest may be, there is a purpose for all
this effort by the farmers to put on the event. First of all, we
want to bring kids to the market, so they will support local,
sustainable agriculture in the future. Secondly, we want to raise
awareness of local, seasonal produce. Thirdly, we are up to our
ears in the squash, and decorating a zucchini gives us a creative
way to celebrate a plant that works so hard for us. (After the
event, you can disassemble your car and give your squash to a
farmer to take home to the chickens or compost; our goal is to have
no food wasted in this festival.)
Last week, I saw “Julie and Julia” at the Raven; two of the four
were playing the film and they were both packed; I left the theater
with enthused market participants, who later agreed to help with
the Zucchini Fest. (Hmm. Fun and Passion trumping Analysis and
Passion as motivation.) The market carts of 1949 Paris were lovely.
Julia was inspiring, because, well, she was having fun with food.
She was being creative and showing by example that we, too, can
cook, especially when given the right ingredients. And as Michael
Pollan pointed out, her cooking was not about competition, it was
about passion, and she made sure cooking was not a spectator sport
for couch potatoes, but for everyone willing to roll up their
sleeves and experiment.
Zany Zucchini Celebration
Last year, the Giant Zucchini competition weigh-in was stem to
stem to the finish. One grower left a lot of the stem on his Giant
Zuch, which added more weight to his squash. The competitor
insisted that the stem be removed and weighed in again. I can’t
remember whether it was Scott or David who won, but it was a lot of
I think Scott and David will be stem to stem again this
Saturday, Aug. 22. Register your Giant Zucchinis and Pre-Decorated
Zucchinis for the Best of Show and Racing Olympics between 8:30 and
9:30. Then do some shopping and put your produce in a cool place.
The Giants and Best Decorated Car winners will be announced at
9:45. The races will begin at 10 a.m.
Remember that your decorated car must be able to race as well as
look good. The axle for the wheels has to be inserted in the
zucchini; in other words, the squash can’t just sit on top of a
skate board or roller skates. The tires can be made out of wood,
Tonka truck wheels, or veggies; the heats are divided so similar
age groups and wheels race against each other. The wheels must fit
within the 11 inch-wide track.
Mandolines for Zucchinis
Susan found inspiration in one of Donna Del Rey’s “Culinary
Lunch and Learn” sessions at Relish Culinary Adventures. Chef
Jennifer Lange introduced the following salad, which gives us
another new way to enjoy zucchini.
Summer Squash Salad with Arugula and Parmesan
Serves 6
1 clove Garlic
Kosher salt
1/4 cup Fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup Extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound Summer squash (yellow squash, zucchini, or mix)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 cups Baby arugula, loosely packed (or other mixed greens)
1/2 cup Fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup Chopped chives
2 Tbsp Capers, rinsed well (also, Kalamata olives or cherry
2 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grate 1/4 cup and reserve
remainder for garnish
In a mortar, or using the flat side of a chef’s knife, mash the
garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt. Put the paste in a small
bowl (or keep it in the mortar) and whisk in the lemon juice. Let
sit for 5-10 minutes and then whisk in the olive oil.
Using a mandoline or Benriner Slicer, or a chef’s knife, cut the
squash diagonally into very thin slices (1/16th – 1/8th inch). Put
the squash in a medium bowl, season with salt and pepper and toss
with about 2/3 of the vinaigrette.
Combine the arugula, parsley, chives and capers in a separate
bowl. Season with salt and pepper and toss with enough vinaigrette
to lightly coat. Taste both the squash and herbs and adjust the
seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.
For individual servings, evenly divide the squash across six
salad plates and top with evenly divided arugula mixture. Sprinkle
each with grated parmesan cheese and or use a vegetable peeler to
shave long parmesan curls. Serve.
To serve to a group, layer about a third of the squash on a
shallow bowl or platter. Scatter about a third of the arugula
mixture on top and sprinkle with a third of the grated parmesan
cheese. Repeat the process until the ingredients are layered on the
platter. Use a vegetable peeler to shave long strips from the chunk
of parmesan onto the salad. Serve immediately.
Mary Kelley is the Manager of the Healdsburg Farmers’ Market.
For more information visit www.healdsburgfarmersmarket.org.