America's Summertime Abundance
While I'm more than content to trot around the globe during most of the year, in fact like nothing more than to see new places and experience the new, to my mind, summer should always take place in the US. Surely this affinity was formed during all those years we spent overseas, moving from place to place, vacations hither and yon, but summers always, always in Decatur, Illinois with family. There's something uniquely American about the humid heat, mosquito bites, the smells of cut grass and chlorine on tanned skin, the hum of cicadas, afternoon thunderstorms, the ping-pong of tennis balls being smashed on a racquet, and grilled blistered meat.Now, during summer trips to visit my parents in the DC suburbs, I find I want to cook differently, eat differently. I crave the flavors of those happy childhood summers, nothing too fancy or precious: heirloom tomatoes, corn on the cob, steak and hotdogs, ice cream, pies of all kinds, fresh seafood, potato salad. I love that I can find all of the ingredients I want so easily, that I have a car to haul my groceries around in and can drop in on farmstands willy nilly. I can spend afternoons at the local pool and come home and throw something on the grill. Essentially I'm 10 years old again. So as I spend the next few weeks in the DC area, I'm going to focus on the recipes I'm whipping up in the kitchen that recreate that feeling of nostalgic childhood contentedness and the sense of security that came along with it.Yesterday I struck out early to investigate the Olney farmers' market that happens each Sunday on a shady knoll. It was already bustling and the air smelled of warm, musky fruit and vegetables, and since this is on the edge of horse country, several patrons were striding around in their jodhpurs and riding boots after an early morning ride. Mixed in with the food vendors were lots of artists stalls and a smattering of prepared food-sellers, but I was most keen to see what the farmers had to offer. I found it odd that there was only one stand offering meat, although they did have rabbit and duck, both of which are otherwise tricky to find. There were no fishmongers at all even though we aren't all that far from the Atlantic and crab is a Maryland delicacy. Also, curiously, there was only one dairy stand and the sheep milk cheeses she had weren't all that great.