Smile Politely

Market Watch: Autumnal fever takes over

This season’s pumpkins first arrived at the Market in late August and were a bit jarring to patrons still waiting for summer to put in a real appearance.

“Already?” was uttered frequently by patrons working their way through the sweet corn, while the pumpkins sat forlornly on the trucks. Now that it’s October, however, people’s thoughts are definitely turning to pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies, Halloween pumpkins, and other pumpkin-related goodies. Some people even turn their pumpkins into Death Stars:

There are an incredible number of varieties of cucurbitae (pumpkins, squash, gourds, etc) available at the Market; traditionally orange jack o’ lanterns do brisk business this time of year, of course, but you’ll also see patrons lugging small, earthy-orange pie pumpkins, brilliantly orange (and weirdly flat) Rouge Vif d’Etemps pumpkins (pictured below), and small white pumpkins (white pumpkins?).

Young patrons are quite fond of those wee little yellow-orange pumpkins. This doesn’t even take into account the vast number of types of gourds and squashes the vendors bring in throughout the growing season. Summer squash is on its way out, but winter squash is on its way in. Familiar Butternut and Acorn squashes will be sharing stall space with lesser recognizable varieties like Potimarron, Buttercup, and Blue Hubbard. Squash is a perfect food; it’s cheap and nutritious, it keeps well, and can be an ingredient in everything from pie to soup to cake.

Unsure of what to do with your squash once you get it home? Check out The Complete Squash by Amy Goldman — it’s part garden book, part cookbook, and is loaded with gorgeous photos. Come get your squash on, why don’t you?

This week’s food:

apples, peaches (final week, for real this time), sweet corn, fennel, fresh herbs, leeks, onions, heirloom potatoes, tomatoes, chard, cabbages (including Napa — our fave), lettuces and salad mixes, spinach, green onions, green beans, okra, eggplant, hot & sweet peppers, broccoli, kohlrabi, squashes (including pumpkins) — also, locally-raised meat and eggs, award-winning goat cheese, honey, and much more.

Of note:

Week # 23 of Urbana’s Market at the Square is shaping up to be a bit damp, but in spite of it all we’ll have appearances by The Urbana Free Library and the City of Urbana’s Fire Rescue Squad, whose Fire Truck Parade will conclude in a giant vehicle muster on Illinois Street. While thru traffic will not be permitted on Illinois Street between Race and Vine, patrons will have access to the parking lot on Illinois Street, just south of the Market. Just follow the signs!

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