The strawberries grabbed my attention as soon as I sensed their sweet perfume. The rosy red flesh of the tomato never looked so delightful. Fresh baked cheddar-jalapeno bread…ugly but juicy honeybell oranges that you can’t ever get in Baltimore…I had to get to the Lakes Park Farmers Market even before I unpacked.
I got off the plane, got my rental car and headed straight to the lovely park in Fort Myers to breathe in the fresh fruit, to puzzle over which bread to take with me, to marvel at the lush tropical plants that wouldn’t fit in my carry-on (but oh how I wish they would!). I took home two loaves of bread, guacamole, fresh tomatoes, two pints of strawberries. Our late lunch, I must add, was glorious.
And then I went back again for another visit to the market in the hours before my flight back home.
What is it about farmers markets? I go to them all the time. At home, Sunday isn’t Sunday without a stop at the downtown farmers market. I’ve been to markets in Aix-en-Provence, New Orleans, San Francisco. They are so different — a variety of foods, a smattering of homemade jewelry or other gift items. And yet, there are similarities that make them wonderful. People are always so thrilled to show off what they have produced, whether it’s an organic onion or a tub of verdant guacamole or a pair of bead earrings.
I always look for the musicians who play for tips. At the Lakes Park market, a guitarist plays hits from my childhood (and probably his teenage years). It’s nice to have a soundtrack as you connect with the local farmers, bakers and cooks.
Farmers markets always have the best stuff. I know I can count on something fresh, something good, something local. In Fort Myers, the market is so good, I’m thrilled I can begin and end my visit there. And believe me, that’s exactly what I did.
© Text and photos Mary K. Tilghman