Last Saturday, I had my first experience visiting a Florida farmer's market.
It was located in historic Ybor City, the "Latin Quarter" of Tampa, Florida (a city I lived in many years ago for a couple of years) I found a Saturday farmer's market unlike any I had ever visited.
Most of the booths at the Ybor City Saturday market were not selling produce. That surprised me a little bit - if you go into supermarkets in March, you will find produce shelves stocked with (excellent) Florida grown summer squash, strawberries, juice oranges (a word on that a little later) and even corn. This visitor from upstate New York thought the market would be chock full of local produce. It wasn't. Instead, there were a lot of craft booths, and a touch (well, more than a touch) of local flavor.
One surprise was something called strawberry onions.
The vendor explained that these freshly dug sweet onions were grown at the edge of strawberry fields. (Plant City, a major strawberry growing area, is in the same county as Tampa). We purchased two onions. If we had known they would survive five days in our car (they did) and if we had a larger cooler, I would have purchased this woman's entire stock. They are fantastic!
What would a Florida farmers market be without citrus? Well, here's a little secret that hasn't changed in the almost 40 years since I've lived in Florida. The best citrus gets imported outside of Florida. But I tasted these, and they were nice and sweet.
I was enjoying some iced Cuban coffee when I spied the booth that made this farmer's market different from any other one I had ever been to.
Ybor City was founded by people in the cigar business (and annexed by Tampa a couple of years later). So, although I have my own personal opinions about tobacco use, cigars do belong in this market in the context of history.
In the next few weeks, I'd like to show you some more of Ybor City, and Tampa.
What is the most surprising thing you have found at a farmer's market?