If I were Alice, the Jean-Talon Market would be my Wonderland. Located in Montreal, Quebec, it is a huge year-round farmer's market filled with every fruit and vegetable imaginable. It stocks rows and rows of some of the freshest produce around. It could take hours to simply stroll through. Once you enter the market, you are immersed in a world of sights, smells, and, best of all, tastes. Bring your appetite.
Upon entering the market, you are immediately greeted by booths selling everything from pastries and polish doughnuts to crepes and samosas. You will want a snack when undertaking farmer's market this large, trust me. There are spice shops. Specialty olive oils (with samples!). Shops with unique frozen desserts. And this is all before you reach the real focus of the market—the fresh produce.
There are stands of all sizes, shapes, and colors. My favorite ones have free samples. While one may have the juiciest peaches, the next may hold the ripest tomatoes. Taste testing fruits and vegetables for quality before I buy is something I could definitely get used to.
The vegetable selection is immense. There are chili peppers, bell peppers (in every color), eggplant, green beans, artichokes, garlic, greens of all shades and textures, asparagus, radishes, leeks, onions, potatoes, pumpkins, herbs, and more. Much more.
The fruit selection is also intimidating with strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries, pears, peaches, nectarines, grapes, plums, lemons, limes, tomatoes, apples, oranges... the list goes on and on.
And, if you are lucky, you might just stumble upon freshly made pasta sauce, ready for you to take home.
Or a cooking demonstration here or there.
There is always something new to learn when going to the market. In my limited Midwest knowledge of vegetables, there are (surprise, surprise) gaps in my produce recognition. For instance, I did not realize cauliflower could actually be, well, colorful! Vibrant yellows, pale greens, and vivid purples. Does this mean each color has its own unique taste? I might just have to find out.
And further still, some vegetables were just puzzling. This spiky little root left me with lots of questions about its mysterious identity. I shall call it an enigma vegetable until I can place its proper name.
Though the produce may glow with all the colors of the rainbow, there is something to be said about a dull, dirt covered root. Picked that morning, they come straight from the ground, still covered in their dirty little birthday suits.