A Culinary Trip Around the World: the Alemany Farmers’ Market

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Miles away from the posh Ferry Building Farmer’s Market, at the other end of San Francisco, is the Alemany Farmer’s Market. Set at the foot of Bernal Heights, between two freeways and adjacent to the housing projects, it’s an unlikely spot for the bountiful harvest found there each Saturday morning.  Lots of families, eager organic eaters and people of all walks of life and ethnicities, all just trying to fill their bellies with healthy fare, meander through the dazzling array of local products.  You’ll find Muslim women with headscarves bargaining with the Chinese vendors, Russian couples arguing animatedly about the price of cherries, seniors out with their shopping cart doing battle with the strollers… and hordes of young families, snacking, learning about produce, sharing the chores and enjoying a family outing. This time of year, look for great deals on persimmons, pomegranates and every type of leafy green imaginable. Fresh crab is for sale, as well as Indian breads, olives, eggs and flowers. Go for the fare, but enjoy the murals. The colorful thematic murals make the market that much more special and photogenic. Plan your route, and you can look forward to a cafe con leche with a croissant and all the samples you can manage. Kids toddle with a cucumber clutched in one hand, a pain au chocolat in the other and, on their face, a strawberry juice goatee. The honey stall is a favorite stop for a little taste of heaven on a toothpick. Toddlers love Jackie the musician and her dancing pink cat. She is in her eighties and has delighted generations of Market visitors. Some days there are bunnies and chicks to pet; you don’t have to let on that they are future meals. You can get enough produce, bread, cheese, fish and flowers for less than $50 to last a couple weeks; cheaper than the supermarket and tastier! Listen to music, chomp on kettle corn, run into many friends, chat with the vendors, and when you can’t carry any more… lug your haul back up the hill. Hand in hand with your brood, the Alemany Farmers’ Market can be fun educational and a family ritual. —Darya Mead

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