Sacramento farmers markets October surprise

Name that ’shroom! Caption

Name that ’shroom! Caption

Until Sunday, I had two staple farmers markets I attended religiously every week. On Tuesday, it was Fremont Park and on Wednesday, it was Cesar Chavez Plaza. If I did not get the vegetables I needed on Tuesday, there was always Wednesday. And then I’d go to Safeway to get the rest of my necessities.

Then the month of October brought gloom. I knew that these markets would be no longer, and I’d have to rely on Safeway for my entire grocery list. Distraught, I looked up local farmers markets in the hopes that there would be another one to cure my October blues.

Little did I know, there’s a year-round concrete oasis conveniently located on Eighth and W streets beneath the freeway which, by the way, offers a nice bit of shelter for those who brave the cold weather to get their winter supplies.

In the past, I’d felt equipped with my backpack strapped to me at Fremont and Cesar Chavez parks. But no, backpacks are for rookies. Here, I saw families carrying at least two wicker baskets per member and some people even arrived with carts.

The attendees ranged from families who knew what they wanted, but like myself, were overwhelmed by all the stands that offered the same staples.

And then, there were the foodies, the experts. They knew exactly what they wanted and exactly where they wanted to get it from.

I chose to stick to what I knew and looked for a particular black tent where I’d found comfort at the other markets. When I noticed that there were multiple black tents, however, I knew I was screwed.

Then I decided this was my time to be adventurous. I couldn’t count on my one black tent.

Mushrooms were the first challenge. I always knew I could rely on my one mushroom lady at Cesar Chavez Plaza. I knew exactly what I wanted—shiitake. But there were multiple mushroom vendors, and now I had to examine the different types of mushrooms. I was excited to find there were also multiple avocado vendors. This time, I let my newborn foodie side come out and examined the avocados at both vendors and finally made my selection. I left the stand feeling proud and ready to conquer the rest.

With two hours and $12 spent, I was able to buy three bell peppers, five jalapeño peppers, a purple onion, squash, basil and cilantro. Had I given myself more time and money, I could have really caused some damage.

Among the things I learned on this trip: Because this year-round market offers a bigger variety of fruit and vegetables than the others, next time I’ll arrive with a bigger bag and a bigger wallet. I’ll also get there earlier than 10 a.m. if I intend to stock up on staples and venture out a little.

But most of all, I will not fear the middle of October. Now I have a new Sunday tradition. And, I’ve yet to return to Safeway.