The Geek & The Chic

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Alaskans, Send Me Your Produce!

Author's Note: This particular blog entry should in no way be interpreted as my desire to move back to the far, frozen north climate.

When I lived in Alaska, I yearned for real produce. Real summer fruit that was actually ripe and not previously frozen for the trip north, for produce that didn't travel thousands of miles, for prices that didn't leave my wallet containing nothing but dust bunnies. Now I am in the land of plenty and to my own amazement, I've discovered I miss the Alaska section in the produce aisle.
I like grocery shopping and I am particuarly picky about produce. I will spend as much time as I feel necessary to find the perfect pepper, cheeriest cherry or the plumiest plum. Up north, in my previous life, produce shopping could take a long time, much to the distress of anyone who ventured out with me to the grocery store. Man times the peppers weren't perfect, the cherries weren't cheery and the plums, well, they cost an arm and a leg. So I was excited about the move south where produce would be plentiful and hopefully provide good pickins'.

Let me digress a moment. My great grandparents were green grocers in New York City years ago. My father tells me stories of how when he was a little boy and would go their store. My father knows when watermelon is ripe and the canteloupe is juiciest. My grandmother, I'm sure, taught him, as she learned from her parents. I found out recently that my aunt is a picky produce shopper too, so I think it runs in the family and I am therefore excused from ridicule. Anyway...

I was grocery shopping the other day. I was looking over the peppers and they looked pretty good, the cucumbers looked good. In fact everything I looked at looked good except for the zucchini. In fact, I didn't even think I was looking at zucchini. The zucchini I was looking at could have passed for a cucumber. I wanted the Alaska kind of zucchini, as thick as an Italian mob guy's forearm and just as heavy. There went dinner plans. There was just no way I could bring that home. I think deep down I felt ashamed for it.

Then there were the potatoes. Who knew that I developed a taste for Alaskan potatoes? Central New York has some kind of quirky addiction to something called Salt Potatoes. For the life of me, I cannot figure out the difference between what's called Salt Potatoes and what might be Yukon Gold. Oh, well, there is the huge packet of salt they include in the bag with directions to add the entire packet of salt to boiling water if you're going to use all the potaotes in the bag. It didn't tell me how much salt to use for say only six or seven potatoes. But the plus was that at least they were locally grown.

Yet another sour point. Everywhere I drive around here, I see cornfields. Row after row of slender stalks climbing as high as the proverbial elephant's eye. Yet nowhere I have found a roadside stand. What gives? Who knew that I would miss Anchorage's Saturday Market fresh produce section? I've been so tempted to drive out at night, stop the car along some cornfield and take an ear or two... With my luck, I'd either find a baseball field or some lost child...

Ah, but the carrots. I might get an argument from some but carrots grown in the Alaska soil somehow taste sweeter than carrots grown elsewhere. Maybe it's the cold weather that somehow does something to the soil or maybe they do really taste sweeter since they've only come 40 miles down the road. Well, carrots were on my shopping list too. They came from California.

Next year, I'm planting a garden!


  • I never heard of salt potatoes....hmmmmm

    Im not as picky I guess, I dont shop for zucchini because I wouldnt know what to do with it...

    but usually I buy whats on sale, but in good condition, and Im lazy.... I get the peeled baby carrots, my sister Valerie Says they have no flavor and that the big ones are better, I just cant be bothered cutting them :)

    By Blogger Monica, at 5:27 PM  

  • I came across your blog through a search for Lowville, NY and I had to comment on the salt taters. I am from Lowville, my husband was in the Army and were were stationed at Ft. Drum.

    Now we are living in NYC. I mish my easy access to salt potatoes. I wouldn't suggest trying to cook just a few. You really have to make the whole bag. They are different from regular potatoes because, besides being salty, are not broken up to be eaten. They are also not to be cooked a few at a time.

    Just cook the whole bag as directed and then dip them in melted butter. You don't need to add anything else. No sour cream, salsa, cheese or other typical toppings. They are a yummy summer staple.

    By Blogger The girl next door, at 11:37 PM  

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