Saturday, July 11, 2009

Continuing Education

NEW YORK - APRIL 23: Host of "Bizarre Foo...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

My on-the-job education at the Minneapolis Farmers Market continues.

Today Andrew Zimmern, host of the Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods, was our guest on a live broadcast of Fresh and Local. What makes a food bizarre? When it is unfamiliar and unexpected. It reflects our environment and our culture; as well as war and peace; love and loss; famine and prosperity.

The most interesting food tells stories, said Zimmern, who cruised the aisles of the Minneapolis Farmers Market and brought back these story-tellers:

- Gai Lan, Chinese broccoli. This, said, Zimmern, was the original broccoli. That the Minneapolis Farmers Market has growers who sell it and shoppers who buy it speaks volumes about how local culture has changed.

-Wild Rice. How rare; how exquisite is hand-harvested wild rice, Zimmern said. Yet in many parts of the world, it is unknown and bizarre. We Minnesotans take it for granted and walk right by.

-Fava beans and Pigeon peas. Zimmern was intrigued by an African farmer selling these lentils. Marinated fava beans are on every table in Italy, he explained. Pigeon peas are integral to African cuisine. And here they are in formerly-Nordic Minnesota.

I took home fava beans, pigeon peas, wild rice, kai lan; a healthy serving of humility and a new way of looking at the market.

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