Fall has arrived in New York: the days are shorter, the air is cooler, there's a breeze blowing in the trees, and gradually, gradually, the leaves are changing colour. With this change in season, comes a change in the food I crave. Suddenly making a soup or roasting something in the oven has become an attractive thought, and apple crumble has made its way back onto the dining table every weekend.
The Farmers' markets are one day sheltering from wind and rain and the next day basking in the warm sunlight. The produce is slowly becoming more and more autumnal, but hints of a glorious summer which has come to an end are still visible in small heaps and piles if you search for them.
Squash and pumpkins in all shapes and sizes are the centerpiece of the October market. There's butternut squash and acorn squash, the less tasty spaghetti squash, and stripy ones and long bendy ones I don't know the name of. There are also pumpkins which are perfect for carving, which I will do as soon as I embrace this American obsession with Halloween (I'm still rather wary at the moment), as well as gorgeous striped, bumpy decorative gourds which will soon be replacing the wild flowers as the go-to apartment decoration.
The stalls that aren't squash-centered are covered in crates of apples and pears. I can't explain how happy apple season makes me. My poor shoulders which have to haul all the kilograms of apples home after every market trip would probably tell a different story. No scented candle will ever come close to smelling as heavenly as apples cooking on the stove, simmering away in butter and a sprinkling of brown sugar.
The concord grapes smell sweet and look like beautiful little gems nestled in their turquoise punnet. I'm too lazy to bother with deseeding them and all the other fiddly bits that goes with cooking them, but I still pause to think about it for a little while, and admire the others who do pick up a punnet to go home and wrestle with in their own kitchen.
Bunches of greens of all varieties attract the kale enthusiasts from far and wide. Leafy, crunchy, and tied up in huge bunches; kale, cavolo nero, broccoli rabe, spinach, and collard greens are on rotation at our little dining table this week.
You have to be fast to grab a punnet of the last of the tomatoes. Juicy and almost overripe, these beautiful heirlooms are dragging their feet into Autumn, unwilling to leave the market for another year.
Garlic has also begun to show its face in the last couple of days. You can smell it from the the stand next door: sweet and strong. The bulbs sit next to the greens, their proximity forcing you to remember how fabulous these two things will taste when tossed together for a couple of minutes with a dash of olive oil.
And last but not least, the potatoes are here. All colours, shapes and sizes have made an abrupt entrance. The weather needs to turn cooler soon so there's enough of an excuse to roast, bake, boil, mash, and steam all of them, always with a lot of butter and just enough salt. Thinking about it has got my tummy rumbling already.
This weekend will be filled with potatoes, cavolo nero, a few squidgy tomatoes, pumpkins, and lots of apples. I couldn't be more excited.
Union Square Greenmarket, East 14th Street, Park Avenue South & Broadway, New York, NY 10003