Cauliflower Soup for Breakfast? Last Hurrah for Chicago’s Farmers Markets

One Day More…. This reminds me of the gorgeous song from Les Misérables–One Day More–sung on the eve of the 1832 Paris Uprising. The heroes sing of the fate that awaits them the next day. While the end of many of Chicago’s Farmers Markets this Saturday isn’t nearly as profound as Valjean and Éponine facing their destinies, it is a downer for those of us who plan our Saturdays and Sundays around strolls through our neighborhood markets. Yes, we’ve had the joy of flowers, herbs, fruits and veggies all summer long. And yes, we know that the markets do come to an end in the fall. But it doesn’t mean we have to like it. My market of choice is the Division Street Market – a small, but oh-so- special market on Division Street between Clark and State Streets. I’ve tried other markets–namely Green City Market further north. But I prefer the size, intimacy and friendly vendors that have been part of my market for years. I’ve been frequenting this market since coming to the neighborhood in 1989. It’s filled with vendors selling everything from organic produce, herbs, melons, berries to jams, honey and fresh-baked scones. In fact one of my favorite vendors, Jennifer Estrella of Bake°, created all the delicious desserts once offered at The Meatloaf Bakery™.

And then of course, in August and September, we flock to the stands stacked high with fresh bi-color corn. Come late September we start to see the crates of apples, squash, pumpkins, Brussels sprouts, concord grapes and gigantic heads of cauliflower.

Being a creature of habit, I feel the looming sadness as the Division Street Market comes to an end Saturday, October 28. For years, I’ve rallied Saturday mornings, grabbed my small shopping cart and hustled to the market for my supplies. It’s a ritual that I share with many others. Regardless of the time I enter the market, it’s filled with people walking their dogs and shopping too, babies in strollers, and elderly women and men using their walkers to navigate among the booths. It’s a wonderful array of people relishing the abundance of tastes, sights and smells.

So as we face one of the last markets of the season, we say so long to the endless varieties of apples, pastries and flower bouquets. Farewell to those end-of-summer tomatoes and beautiful bell peppers in all shapes, sizes and varieties. And prepare for the long months ahead without our cheery vendors who happily give tastes so we know just what types of apple to buy.

This weekend, I’ll stock up. I started doing so last Saturday choosing radishes, golden beets, pickles, tomatoes and my favorite Empire apples. While I have more than I can ever consume in one week, it just seems like the right thing to do. In fact, I may rise earlier this week to savor the market and fill my cart with every vegetable I see. Who says you can’t eat cauliflower soup for breakfast? For a delicious recipe,  though many exist, check out this one by The Pioneer Woman. If you’re a market-goer, take advantage of this last hurrah, and let’s hope winter passes swiftly.                         Photos by Cynthia Kallile.  
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Cynthia Kallile