I will be the first to admit that I have a bit of an obsessive personality. Whenever I get hooked on something it becomes, by law, the best thing ever. I guess I’m a bit of a tramp stamp. There’s an episode of “How I Met Your Mother” titled just that, “The Tramp Stamp”. I follow the show in a sort of haphazard way meaning that when it first came out I bought the first two box sets and then promptly stopped watching it. I did the same thing with The Big Bang Theory but that had something to do with my TV husband, Sheldon Cooper, getting a girlfriend…but I digress. My father however, is the complete opposite. Whenever I liked “How I Met Your Mother” he was completely disinterested and now, when I could care less, this is all he watches….well that and he has a horrible fixation with “The Voice”. This pattern of behavior is very typical between both my parents and me. When I like something (such as Maroon 5), it’s considered “devil teenage music (or television or clothes or food)”. Years down the road when I’m completely over this phase they often call me up and say, “Katie, oh my goodness have you heard that new singer Adam Levine? He’s wonderful!” It’s a very strange phenomenon. So when I voyaged back home to New Orleans recently to visit my parents for a couple of weeks, my father decided he was going to try to convert me back to watching “How I Met Your Mother” by giving me a crash course in the last 5 seasons and then marathoning the 8th season for the entirety of a 12 hour period. I’m a television purist. I’m the kind of person that needs to start a show from the very beginning or I won’t watch it. So this was something of a torturous event for me. Apparently Lily and Marshall had a child…Barney is marrying Robin. What? Oh my gosh…too much for me to take in. The only thing I remembered from this marathon was Marshall being a stamp tramp, meaning he puts his stamp of approval on virtually everything he experiences, which eventually lands him in trouble. I’d like to think that this is because of Marshall’s kind hearted nature that just wants to like everything and everyone. That’s exactly how I am. You will learn this as you read this blog. I will RARELY say that I dislike something. I have this ridiculous ability to see the good qualities in almost anything. In this situation however, I’d like you to try to see past this quirk of mine. I have been absolutely dying to put my serious seal of approval on the new(ish) Lafayette Farmer’s and Artisan’s Market at the Horse Farm.
I could go on for pages about the work that the Environmentalist Club, known as SPEAK, at UL Lafayette has done to save the Horse Farm and all of the amazing things our city has done with that property. For a long while around Lafayette, you might have seen posters and banners hanging about sporting the message “Save the Horse Farm”. The Horse Farm is a stretch of green space at the center of town that houses some ancient oaks and an old barn. For years locals have viewed this as a piece of history, a sacred space in our town. For a little while it was threatened by developers that wanted to build a shopping strip on that land because of its prime location. But SPEAK and other groups rallied for years to keep that land a public green space and their efforts paid off. Eariler this year the farmer’s market opened up on site and I can honestly say, job well done. This market grows and grows every time I get the chance to make it out there and more and more local businesses keep popping up, finally getting their chance to showcase their talents. It operates every Saturday with live music, food, art shows, vendors…even the Lafayette Food Trucks come out to play! You might see a group or two of people playing frisbee by the oaks. This little market supplies our city with more benefits and commerce than any stupid strip mall ever could. Every time I go, I get to meet someone new; another local artist, farmer or restaurant trying blaze their own trail.
I’m going to use this entry to brag on a few of the people I met this past visit. The first new person I ran into was a cute little lady with dredlocks, an adorable sundress and a very pregnant belly. She goes by the name “Pacha Mama” and she grows her own herbs and spices, crafts homemade soaps, infusions and teas. Dear reader, you will come to know me as one of the biggest tea fanatics you’ll ever meet, so her products really appealed to me. One of the things I admire the most about a person is their passion. You could see how passionate she was about her craft as she opened each plastic baggie to allow us to get a good whiff of each herbal blend. She was able to give me all the health benefits, minerals, and vitamins that each tea provided and helped me ultimately choose her “High-C” blend, rich in vitamin C to help with my expected winter illnesses. I brewed my first mug just yesterday and the hibiscus flowers made for a deep rich red tea hinted with cinnamon that didn’t need an ounce of sugar or any other additive. It was perfect. Upon opening my tea ball strainer, the contents which had once been dry were visible re-hydrated flowers and leaves full of beautiful reds, yellows and greens. If you pry open a Lipton tea bag after it has been brewed, you’re probably going to see brown mush. A little baggie of her tea cost me $5 but it only takes about a teaspoon for an entire mug. I will most definitely be paying her another visit.
My second new friend is a local citrus orchard called Dupuis Citrus Grove hailing from Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, a small neighboring town. Not many may know this but Louisiana has quite the citrus industry. We have an entire town named after our favorite citrus fruit, the Satsuma, a small tangerine-like fruit with a characteristically easy to peel exterior and a much-sweeter-than-an-orange interior. The sections tend to not be as tough either. With the winter upon us, I was wondering when I’d start to see satsumas and their citrus family members making an appearance at our local market. Now, I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I know a good satsuma when I taste one. My father grew his own satsumas our whole lives and my childhood is marked by gathering the fruit in my skirt and feasting on them throughout the colder months. (That sounds oddly 1800s antebellum of me…sorry about that.) Sometimes depending on where you get your satsumas from, they are bitter and tough. So I was really hoping for a good quality satsuma vendor at the market and the Dupuis Citrus Grove did not disappoint. I was given 3 pounds of Satsumas (it’s been about a week and I’m still working on them) for $4 and 5 Meyer lemons for $1. She threw in a little lagniappe. I’ve never tried Meyer lemons before so don’t be surprised if you see a little lemon curd or lemonade experimentation going on in the coming entries.
Lastly, I’d like to highlight a consistent favorite of mine, not a new friend, but an old one that never disappoints. Up to Grow Good Farms specializes in heirloom fruits and vegetables, no GMOs, no pesticides, the whole package. I haven’t had as much experience with these guys as some have. They come from Cottonport, a place I had no idea existed until about 4 minutes ago. But it looks like it’s a good ways North of Lafayette and although they always have something for me to buy, from the looks of their Tumblr they are quite a bit more active in other markets probably closer to home. I had actually never tasted a proper bell pepper until I met Mr. Paul Lyles and his wife Ms. Nicole. I had never seen such beautifully unique heirloom watermelons nor had I ever purchased heirloom tomatoes in my life. I feel like these people have opened up my world to what produce is REALLY supposed to taste like and feel like. They are often my first stop at the market and it totally helps that Mr. Paul is the nicest person alive and always gives me one or two extra of whatever I’m buying. He takes good care of his patrons. I am going to include a link to each of these vendors pages in hopes that you will make new friends as I have.
The photo above showcases my market spoils and also the new wok that my sister bought for me for my birthday. I am now 24 years of age as of last Sunday and of course the two-day celebration was centered around food. I am eager to be the best 24 year old I can be and post many new entries for your reading pleasure. Next episode I will be showing you what I made with those heirloom green tomatoes from Up to Grow Good, so until then!
Dupuis Citrus Grove:
They don’t have a website or Facebook page to my knowledge, but this link gives some information about their location and hours of operation: http://la.marketmaker.uiuc.edu/business/486537-dupuid-citrus-grove
Pacha Mama doesn’t have a Facebook page or website to my knowledge, but I will do some investigating and update this entry next time I see her.