Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Shoppers Trample Each Other at Kauai Farmers Market! Mother Screams Revenge!

Ok so I have a thing for Farmers Markets. I admit it. I just LOVE the bounty all laid out, I love the way the vendors know the best way to prepare their produce, the way everyone wanders amiably, baskets over their arms. I love the relaxed happy feeling.

And so it was that with all these joyful thoughts in mind that we headed out to the local Kauai Sunshine Market (as they are known here) at the Koloa Ball Park which just happens to be a block away from our house.

The market starts at 12noon sharp and we were advised to be there at 11:30am. I wasn’t clear exactly why we had to be there so early but we dutifully showed up at 11:40am. I was a bit surprised to see that quite a crowd had already gathered. I could see a grouping of umbrellas 100m or so down the driveway but there was some kind of barricade stopping us from proceeding. We all milled around in the scorching heat until a man appeared waving a banana leaf like some kind of Jesus character bidding us all to heed him. I could hear him going on about something – it sounded like a huge list of rules and regulations about shopping at the market and so I tuned him out fairly quickly.

It was about a bazillion degrees by then and the natives were getting restless. People had started edging toward the front of the crowd. At this point, dude with the banana leaf had invited “any invalids, or pregnant women, or those over the age of 90” to have a “head start”. A head start at what? What was going on? Had I showed up at some sort of Farmers Market Reality show? Was this a contest? Who are these people? A few seconds later a whistle sounded and so began the farmers market equivalent of the the Running of the Bulls, Kauai style. The crowd surged forward toward the 20 or so market stalls. I was caught up in the crowd and carried into the fray and before I knew it I had purchased 4 avocados, and a bunch of bananas from a 4ft high Filipino lady who alternated between shrieking at her 3ft high elderly mother who was apparently having difficulty figuring out the correct change, and shrieking “ONE DOLLA ONE BUNCH A BANANA” at the madding crowd.

I was finally able to break free from the banana stall only to find myself at a stall selling fresh greens and lettuce. I quickly found myself with 3 small lettuce and, somehow, a bunch of oregano. I had the bad luck to have also placed myself between Deb from Somewhere Small in the midwest and her husband, whom I will call Paul, as that must be his name. There conversation went like this:

Deb(to Paul, who was holding a red loose-leaf lettuce) will you be able to make slaw outta that?

Paul: I don’t think so. It’s a bit floppier than most cabbage I’m used to

Vendor: That no cabbage that lettuce

Deb: I told you.

Paul: No you didn’t. You said get one of those cabbages there and you pointed to this one.

Vendor: I have cabbage over here. That no cabbage.

Paul: (to the vendor) what do we do with this one?

Vendor: you eat it in a salad.

Deb: just put it back, Paul.

Paul: Maybe we should go back to Safeway

Yes, Deb and Paul, you should definitely go back to Safeway, preferably in the small town where you live. And if you are reading this, please do some research before you go to another farmers market.

Fortunately, I looked up at this point, and spotted some other members of our group. This was enough to shake me out of my crazed state of mind. I broke free and stumbled into the open area in the middle of the market. Unfortunately, though, it was too late for Kent and he had succumbed badly to the mania. He started barking out orders like “WHAT ABOUT STARFRUIT?” and “WE’LL NEED AT LEAST 42 ORANGES” and “WILL THOSE MUSHROOMS LAST US ALL WEEK?”

The crowd seemed to reach a frenzy of buying and within about 10 minutes, many stalls were nearly bare. I did notice, however, that after all the tourists thinned out, many of the vendors pulled out fresh stock and also lowered their prices. Next time I’m going to skip the pre-market lecture, and the frenzied crowd, and show up at 12:15, rebel that I am.

After the dust had settled, we took stock. We were all hot and a bit cranky, but lunch was super good!


Jesus leading his disciples.


That’s Deb and Paul across the table.


Macadamia Nuts. I was surprised to learn that they don’t grow naturally covered in chocolate. What kind of place is this??


Zoe trying a Rambutan. Not so much on the Rambutan…


Did you know it takes a pineapple plant two years to grow a pineapple? It took us about 5 minutes to eat this one….





Poor Silas got a bit hot…



After recovering from the market, lunch was especially good. That’s fresh greens, homemade pasta salad, pollock strips prepared with some kind of delicious vinegar sauce, and octopus salad. Nice!

Later, I tried to play some golf but I really am so terrible that it’s not worth discussing.


Jacob hunted down a Durian Fruit from the property and massacred it on the lawn. Yuck.


We rounded out the day with some kite flying, a spot of ping pong and anther fabulous dinner. Yes, that is Kent with a cabbage leaf on his head.

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Another tough day. At least there were no frogs involved.

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