Friday, April 3, 2009

Green Garlic (for girls only)

The other day I discovered a Friday farmer’s market in Echo Park. I guess I did not so much discover it as much as my friend, and blogger extraordinaire, Diana took me there.

The market opens at 3:00 on Friday; a very odd time for a farmer’s market. But it was soon made clear to me that it was the BEST time for a farmer’s market. You see, at 3:00 most people are still working and as a result the market is not overrun with people as are the neighboring Silverlake and Hollywood markets during their hours on the weekends. However, there are still enough people present that people watching remains an option as you scarf down a handmade blue-corn quesadilla or a rotisserie chicken from the chicken truck guy. And as it is in Echo Park, the people watching is still top notch.

While any of you that have read my blogs know, I am all about meat. So what you are about to read may shock you. Should you find yourself at the Echo Park farmer’s market ordering a blue-corn quesadilla, opt for the mushroom before the chorizo. I know, I feel every bit as blasphemous writing it dear reader as you do reading it, but trust me on this one. While the chorizo quesadilla still delivers everything one could want with spicy pork blended with melted cheese, topped with homemade salsa and wrapped in hearty blue-corn goodness, the mushrooms used by the quesadilla lady are thick, perfectly sautéed, plentiful and just too good to pass up.

But this blog is not about mushroom quesadillas. It is about something much more serious. It is about sexism! Sexism and garlic! More specifically, green garlic (pictured above).

Let me explain.

After examining the various booths at the Echo Park farmer’s market, Diana and I decided that one stand in particular stood out from the rest. The stand had the most beautiful red leaf lettuce and Swiss chard I have ever seen in all my days of perusing farmer’s markets. Purple kale so vibrant and fresh that I was forced to put my sunglasses back on (Who are we kidding, this is LA so I never took them off to begin with. But you get the point).

Diana and I stuffed our bags full of veggies. I was very happy and my mind filled with excited anticipation of how I would prepare all of these vegetables over the next few days. I planned to feast like a vegetarian (if that was even possible to do) week in and week out all thanks to this wonderful man and his Echo Park farmer’s market vegetable stand.

As visions of broccolini with ginger and oyster sauce danced in my head, I stood patiently in line behind my friend as she settled up with the proprietor; a seemingly very nice man who made eye contact when he spoke and did his best to be overtly friendly. After Diana paid him, the man reached down and pulled out a gorgeous stem of green garlic. It was enormous and beautiful and best of all, FREE! He handed it to Diana and informed her she was to eat the entire thing, roots and all. To do anything else, he assured her would be a waste.

Wow, I thought. This could be no better. Great vegetables and free green garlic to boot make for a very good score. With that, the cheery gentleman turned his attention to me and my bag of fresh goodies. Again, he was very friendly and gave me great deals on vegetables that would even justify paying Whole Foods’ ridiculous prices for them. I then handed over some cash and waited…and waited…and waited….until finally the farmer moved on to the next person in line.

But where was my green garlic? I smiled. I was friendly. Why didn’t I get any green garlic?

Perplexed, I walked with Diana to get a slice of pizza from another booth. While she ordered I took a seat at a table and that is when I learned the glory of the mushroom quesadilla mentioned above. In fact, had it not been so wonderful, I think my mood would have even soured the chorizo quesadilla, until now a feat I thought impossible for anyone or anything to accomplish. But as I chomped away I observed something that shocked me to the core; the farmer was giving other customers free green garlic! I was appalled! Why not me?! That’s when I noticed something else: the farmer was only giving green garlic to girls! Not one single male received as much as a second glance.

I understand the whole concept of “Ladies Night” at bars. I understand Moms getting a free corsage at Mother’s Day brunches. I get it. But this was no special event or marketing ploy, oh no, this was sexism at its finest. I am a white male! I am supposed to get everything! Life is easy street for me and my kind. Why not green garlic? Was this the beginning of something greater I thought? Was my elite status no longer enough to secure everything I need and want in life? Would all females soon start getting free vegetables at farmer’s markets? Next time, would ovaries equal free oranges? Or boobies, bananas? What’s a guy gotta do for an eggplant? This was an eye-opening experience that I would rather not have.

Apparently, Diana noticed my sadness at being excluded from the giving of the green garlic. Whether it was the sadness in my eyes or my 10 minutes of complaining/whining, I cannot be sure. But she did notice. And being the friend she is, she handed me her green garlic. Instantly I was taken back to childhood and when a bank teller would pacify me with a lollipop so my mom could finish her business. Guess things really haven’t changed much.

I will go back to the Echo Park Farmer’s Market today. I will give the farmer one more chance to offer me free green garlic. And should he do it, I will accept with a smile and all will be forgotten. After all, green garlic is plucked from garlic fields to give other garlic bulbs more time to grow and develop. So really, it’s just kind of a weed as far as farmers are concerned. But it is a weed I covet.

Because the green garlic was so fresh I wanted to taste it with little else to overpower it. So heeding the farmers call to eat the entire thing, I took it home, chopped it up, slathered a loaf of French bread with butter and freshly grated Parmesan, topped it with green garlic and some crushed red pepper, slid it under the broiler and in a matter of minutes was crunching on one of the best pieces of garlic bread mankind has ever known.

Maybe the farmer will read this blog and realize the error of his ways. If not, sexism will live on at the Echo Park Farmer’s Market and I will be forced to pay for my green garlic.

Oh well.

I returned to the same vendor a few weeks later and I was given my green garlic. However, I did not return the favor to Diana and indeed kept my garlic for myself.