By Aaron Ketzenberger
Finals, check. Graduation, check. Now it’s time to enjoy Bloomington in the summer, and that means regular visits to the farmers’ market.
The sun finally came out after days of rain, and though the morning was cool and breezy, last Saturday’s market was packed and vibrant as usual. The Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market, which has thrived here in the Monroe County seat since 1975, is Indiana’s largest growers-only market. With more than 140 farmers selling what they grow, it’s no wonder USA Today listed the market as one of the top destination markets in the country.
Though it’s never a good idea to go to the market hungry (well, not a good idea for my wallet, anyway), I can’t help but look for breakfast. I was excited to see an Indianapolis favorite, 3 Days in Paris, doing tremendous business, with a large crowd surrounding its tent from the time I placed my order to the time I got it. Though the wait was a bit on the long side, the red eggs and bacon crepe was worth it, as always. Feast was also doing well with its tamales, and one of my companions enjoyed the Papa Azul, the restaurant’s “blue potato tamale” that’s made with organic blue corn and masa and filled with roasted potatoes, zucchini, onions, jalapenos and raw cheddar.
I also couldn’t resist getting some madeleines from Piccoli Dolci. Summer in Bloomington is too humid for them to make their delicious meringues for the market, but the Italian bakery always has heirloom cookies and pastries.
Once we had our fill of the market’s prepared food, we browsed for some fresh fare and bought some brilliantly red strawberries, and though it’s still a bit early in the season, the berries were sweet and juicy. One aspect of the market that I find is often undervalued is the abundance of fresh flowers. There are cut flowers as well as starts to set out, and all of them are reasonably priced. I found my favorite, sunflowers, at six stems for five bucks.
Back home that afternoon, the madeleines and strawberries paired wonderfully with coffee and a good book, and the sunflowers looked happy in the three o’clock sunlight. And I’m happy to be living in Bloomington, because the food scene rivals that of cities many times its size (I’m looking at you, Indianapolis). The farmer’s market is part of that and is definitely worth the trip if you’re looking for a reason to spend a Saturday in Bloomington. You won’t be disappointed.
Aaron Ketzenberger is a recent IU grad living and writing in Bloomington. You can follow him on Twitter @theaaronketz.