For the past three weeks, I have been in California. More precisely, Carmel by the Sea - the gateway to Big Sur. It's a quaint little town sprung from a 1920's artist colony on the beautiful and wild coast of the Monterey Peninsula. Carmel is my home town.
For those of you who have never been, Carmel proper has no street numbers, no street lights, and other than ‘down town’, no sidewalks. Giving directions sounds something like this: “Go west on Ocean Avenue, then left on San Carlos, down 2 blocks to the 3rd house from the corner, we’re the little cottage with the green gate across the street from the house called ‘Jay’s Roost’ - can’t miss it!’
Everyone seems to have a dog so the biggest social scene is sunset at the ‘dog beach’ where our four footed friends roam free. The 2nd most popular place in town is the post office, as there is no mail delivery within the city limits. Just try explaining this to UPS or Fed X when placing your phone order... ha! There is a separate department for places like Carmel by the Sea!
World famous Point Lobos is a brief 10 minute drive from my house where the grandeur of the ocean is breath taking. Sometimes sea lions lay about soaking up the sun around Whalers Cove where there was once a whale blubber rendering station and an abalone canning factory.
While walking in the woods of Point Lobos, I came across this lively little fellow
This is a Ensatina eschscholtzii or Salamander - locally known as a Newt - recently added to the endangered list. Scooting on the footpath seemed like an unsafe ‘Newt’ activity, so I put him in the grass, taking full advantage of the moment to snap this portrait. Cute little guy, huh?
The physical beauty of the Monterey Peninsula is staggering. The food, not so much, and the farmers markets... well, frankly, I just don’t get it.
Given the proximity of local fishing fleets in the Pacific ocean, and that the primary activity of our very close neighbor, the Salinas Valley, is agriculture (earning the nickname ‘America’s Salad Bowl’) you would think the local farmer’s markets would be over flowing, verily bursting, with abundant springtime displays of strawberries, lettuces, radishes, broccoli, shell fish, seafood and so on.
Not really. It's very disappointing actually... nothing even resembling abundance.
Except this amazing Rainbow Chard, which I have not been able to find anywhere in Paris.
Well, okay, and the strawberries. But...
I wasn't at all tempted by the grilled chicken or...
the prepared foods - even though Mr. Falafel was awfully friendly and had beautiful green eyes...
As much as I don't want to admit it, it’s pretty fair to say that I’ve been spoiled rotten by the French Farmers Markets! The bigger question is, how to bring the message of 'Farm to Table' home to the land of plenty?