Mariquita Farms Mystery Box Magnificence

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Vegetable Soup
Photo by Jen Maiser

I know much has already been said about the Mystery Box from Mariquita Farm -- both here on Bay Area Bites and elsewhere -- but I can't stop myself from adding one more paean of praise for this marvelous arrangement.

You go to a local restaurant for that week's drop-off, you pay $25, and you bring home a huge box overflowing with a variety of farm-fresh produce. Simple as that.

The first time I did the Mariquita Mystery Box, it was almost too much food for two people, but we did get through it all. My next go-around with the Mystery Box involved splitting it with a friend, using a fair amount to cook Thanksgiving dinner, but still having quite a bit left over. The most recent test of the Mystery Box's staying power involved a girls get-away weekend deep in the California redwoods.

This weekend's party consisted of six hungry women (one of them pregnant and, you know, "eating for two"), and five meals over two nights and two days.


This week's Mariquita Farm Box consisted of:

Mixed colors carrots
Mixed colors turnips
Austrian Crescent potatoes
Radicchios mixed with escarole
Watermelon radishes
Swiss Chard
Broccoli di Cicco
Collard greens
Celery (classic)

Now, none of us are vegetarians, so of course we supplemented with meat and dairy, along with some basic pantry items. However, we did our level best to eat our way through all those vegetables, and not only did we get plenty of bang for our twenty-five bucks, but we even had leftover produce at the end of the weekend! All those who wanted were able to bring home extra carrots, radishes, a bunch of tatsoi, and I even snagged myself a beautiful purple head of radicchio. Everything else? Was cooked, eaten, and fully enjoyed in a range of dishes.

The Watermelon Radishes were sliced thin and served with butter and salt as an appetizer; tatsoi and chard got all garlicked up and jumped into a breakfast frittata; turnips, carrots, celery, and collard greens fortified a hearty soup; the potatoes were roasted with chicken schmaltz and served at lunch; the Broccoli di Cicco was quickly sautéed with garlic and pepper flakes and played a strong second fiddle to luscious steak and potatoes; and the exotic purple orach -- along with other sundry bitter winter greens in the box -- composed one of three delicious salads.

It's not like I needed to be convinced of the never-ending wonders of the Mariquita Mystery Box, but this reminder of its seemingly bottomless supply of fresh, healthful, affordable vegetables has made up my mind. Though I might now live in the far(ish)-flung suburbs, whenever Mariquita delivers to Piccino (easily accessed by the 101, dontcha know), I will be there to meet them.

Frankly, in this depressed day and age, can any of us afford not to invest $25 in a box of fresh, local vegetables that will last through many meals?

I know I can't.