Minnesota Nice: St. Paul Farmers' Market

honeyI've just booked a trip that ensures that in less than a month, I'll be happily winging off to my home state of Minnesota. Minneapolis is where I grew up as the pickiest of eaters, eschewing nearly every vegetable aside from corn and artichokes. (Don't ask where my mother got artichokes in Minneapolis in the 70s and 80s. Or Pomegranates and avocados for that matter, but my mother was born and bred in Glendale, CA and she knew what she liked and she made sure she found it for us.)

However, on this next trip home, I will finally (FINALLY) visit the St. Paul's Farmers' Market, the jewel in Minnesota's market crown. I've done Mill City and the older Minneapolis Farmers' Market. I've also done the tiny Thursday stalls along Nicollet Avenue back when I worked downtown at my dad's law firm. Now, it's time for St. Paul, the city on the other side of the river. Capitol twin to my beloved Minneapolis.

Befitting a hardworking Midwestern state, the SPFM is only open from April 26th to November 15th. Those dates are certainly significant to any Minnesotan, because we all know that snow is no stranger to May, and I fondly remember a historic Halloween my senior year in high school when we got 33 inches of nice fluffy white stuff between 9 PM and 5 AM.

It was the first actual Snow Day of my memory. (See, we went to school even when the power went out at Jefferson Elementary and when the busses stalled. In the former, we just wore our snowsuits and in the latter, other busses came to get us.) However, Minnesota being what it is, in 1992 the roads were plowed and my dad was on his way to work by noon.

A farmers' market of some fashion has been operating in St. Paul since 1852. Back then, fresh produce was -- as it is now -- only available during the feverish and fecund summer months. However, throughout the year and even during the glacial, killing months, they had dairy, flour, cakes, and candies. Now, they also have local baked goods, cheese, poultry, buffalo, venison, beef, pork, lamb, maple syrup, eggs, honey, organic produce, flowers, plants, and shrubs.

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Living in the (comparatively) warm Bay Area has definitely softened my Midwestern hide and it's also babied my palate and kitchen. I'm excited about checking out and cooking the fruits and vegetables I would have despised in my callow youth and remembering, celebrating my sturdy roots.

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