As I greeted the butcher, I noticed something new, his tan, the incongruity of the red baseball cap he wore. Only just now did I remember the gossip that he'd got his teeth done: I am frappé by what a good pair of teeth can do - frappé to keep in line with the subject of food, which is where I am going with all this.
Though not in a straight line. And anyway, who walks in a straight line when the market is overflowing with people and all the different stalls one wants to visit. Like my favourite younger farmer with her beaming face, which I almost asked to photograph today. But every time I reach for my phone/ camera, as I did today, watching the sun wash down at such oblique angles, highlighting this fruit or those red peppers, I feel like a traitor. Even though I often marvel at the art of certain photographs, I feel that no single picture could ever bring the right focus to the market experience. It cannot be stared at in that way: if one took the objective gaze to the market, it would fall apart immediately and lose its charm.
Nor do birds like to be stared in the eye for too long. Their proximity is very real - so long as one does not seek to capture. This is called the dance of experience.
So there I was, talking to the young farmer, who had no potatoes due to the scorching weather. As I stood there, listening to the sparrows tweeting overhead, because there are several levels to the market, and above the birds, is the sky, I thought how misleading the weather is: today with its expressive blue sky filled with the glory of bird song is actually hiding the reality that such nice days deny the needs of crops. But is that not what we are doing? The contempt for the farmer; the policy that saves corporations while small farmers are left to fold.
And yet, since it is the job of the farmer to bring out to the stalls what they have to sell, again one is deceived - there is such an abundance of food. Only when one asks the price does one understand: those potatoes were the few potatoes to survive the drought, and like the loved child that survives a Victorian malady, it is lavished with expense.
Soon, it will be the end of eggplant season, and time for stews. I realised today that I will be revisiting my best-of recipes that I posted here, so since I know that at least one person uses those recipes (me) I will share the two recipes I made most often this summer: this baba ganoush recipe (very forgiving, even if you bake those little, lean eggplants and keep the skins on), and a meat rub of salt, pepper, red pepper, garlic powder and cumin. I only eat meat about a third of the year, but when I prepare it, I like to treat it well.