Farmers’ Market Joy #267: Unusual and new-to-me foods

Beth Knorr, Market Manager

Back in 1998 when I worked on a farm for the very first time, nearly everything was new and exotic for this suburban girl.  Swiss chard, kale, purple potatoes, and oh my land- kohlrabi!- were all new to me.  I had never seen half the stuff I was helping to plant, weed, harvest and pack.

One of the wonderful things about farmers’ markets is being introduced to new and interesting items.  Items that we may have eaten in the past and have just fallen from favor, or some truly new items from other cultures that we have rarely or never seen except in a specialty store.  It’s fun to experiment with them, and to see if we like them enough to incorporate them as a regular part of our meals.

Since its inception, our farmers’ markets have offered some varieties of vegetables that are ‘unusual’ for the American table, such as Pac Choi, Mizuna, Komatsuna and edamame (although now edamame, I would argue, is a staple!)  But recently you may have noticed our newest booth at the market bursting with new-to-us items that incite excitement as well as trepidation.  Bitter melon, Yu Choy Sum, Small Gai Choi, Fuzzy Squash and Tokyo Bekana are items Asian Services in Action (ASIA) are bringing to the market.  Many of these items elicit a “How cool!” which is quickly followed by “How do I cook that?”  In these instances, web searches are infinitely helpful, including the mind-boggling number of food blogs with recipes.

Here are a few nice websites that often have recipes for these unusual items:

White on Rice

Just Hungry

Globetrotter Diaries

What other local items do you find unusual and/or exciting? And how do you find ways to cook them and incorporate them into your family’s meals?


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