I Dream of Green Beans: A Young Foodie Diary Entry
I jumped out of bed this morning with a jolt of excitement. Today was the day: Market Day. I dressed quickly, I needed to get to the fairgrounds early. Really early. A stained tank top and overalls were donned, ones with the deep pockets so no purse would be required. Instead a large canvas tote with a shoulder strap slung itself over my arm, a synchronized dance as old as the last tomato slightly rotting on my window sill. Glorious crocs completed my ensemble. I was prepped for battle.
A quick stop at the ATM later and I arrived at the fairgrounds. It was about half an hour before market “officially” opened. This was the proverbially witching hour of market day.
I surveyed the scene. Beat to hell pick up trucks and slightly nicer box trucks lined the perpetually muddy field outside the gate. Inside, colorful tents were arranged in neat rows, owners preparing their various items for sale. I could already smell the cilantro wafting over the morning breeze. I knew it originated at a taco stand just inside the gate. The owner told me she always chops some and leaves it out to combine with the smell of the meat she cooks to draw people in. Good marketing, she called it. I agreed, I always left with a styrofoam box stuffed with her fresh tortillas.
Having made my way up to the gate, others began to spill out of minivans and smart cars, gingerly stepping amongst the puddles toward me. I had splashed along, my crocs were covered in mud. They were ugly as sin, but that’s exactly why I wore them. These were lacking the trademark holes that regular crocs had. They were like little galoshes and perfect for market day in the rain.
At two till, the excitement began to build as the chubby volunteer who runs market day began to make her way toward the gate of the fairgrounds. She was mean as she was round, obviously not a foodie. She always wore skinny jeans and attempted to dress in a fashionable way, but ruined her look with a perpetual frown. I kind of felt bad for her as she looked like she tried really hard to take care of her appearance and look presentable, which is saying something for crack of dawn on a Saturday. However, she was around people that could’ve cared less about looking fashionable in any way. We were here on a quest, a journey of great importance. We were here for food.
Ms. Fashionista finally opened the gate and the small throng of us were off to the races. I waved to taco lady as I power walked past, she smiled and urged me away with a wave of her towel. She understood the rules of market day. Get what you need, then socialize.
I stomped through the mud toward the object of my desire. Mr. Jose’s green beans. Lawd have mercy! I met Mr. Jose about 2 months ago at market, and first had his green beans that evening along with a lemon roasted chicken. They were the best, by far, that I had ever tasted. I had been out of town the last time market day had rolled around, and was determined I would not be foiled in my attempts for green beans this day. I literally had dreams of these things! Seriously these green beans were that good.
When I finally sloshed my way to his stand, I was surprised to see a gentleman in a dress shirt and jeans pouring boxes of Jose’s green beans into a canvas lined bag sitting in a pull behind wagon. Jose would not make eye contact at first, and it slowly dawned on me what was happening. He had sold ALL his green beans to this one man. I could feel my heart begin to beat faster as the agony began to wash over me.
While I can’t say I’m poetic enough to drop to my knees on the mud soaked earth and hold my hands up imploringly to the heavens all the while screaming, “WHY????!!!” my shoulders did sag a little bit. As I stood back at a distance, I began to realize something. There may still be hope. A smile began to form at the corners of my cheeks.
I walked proudly up to the edge of Mr. Jose’s stand, exchanged a pleasant greeting and promptly asked for my usual: 2 containers of green beans. Jose’s face turned a deep crimson, and explained the aforementioned elephant in the room which was this unknown gentleman who was pouring the contents of Jose’s market day fare down his canvas sack.
“Has he paid you yet?” I politely asked. “Well no, ma’am but he is about to,” he stated with a confused look on his face. Jose had not yet caught on, but I was happy to explain. I turned to the gentleman next to me, who up to this point had been purposely ignoring my interaction with Jose. “Sir, you are paying in cash right?” The man looked a bit startled, his hand instinctively brushing the money clip at his side. A money clip that held several cards, but no crisp green bills.
“I was going to pay with my card actually” he muttered, a light slowly dawning over his head at the shock of even considering paying for something any other way. “Well, sir I hate to tell you this but Mr. Jose as well as all the other vendors in this market only deal in cash I’m afraid. There is a ATM down the street though.”
Jose’s expression turned from embarrassed to annoyed. He muttered something to his wife in Spanish who was sitting in the corner, and she rolled her eyes in response. The strange man, who I gathered from my broken knowledge of Spanish was a chef from out of town who had heard about Jose’s green beans. A chef who apparently did not take the time to read the fifteen signs outside of market that stated:
Cash Only! No Cards Accepted!
I smiled in victory as the man returned his half filled sack of green beans, promised to be back after while, and trudged down the path with his wagon in tow. Jose grinned at me, and probably a little at his own foolishness for not seeking payment first for such a large transaction. I paid for my two containers of green beans, but Mr. Jose handed me three with a smile. “For making an old man laugh” he muttered, his wife cackling in the background.
Green beans in tow, I made my other purchases and headed toward my beloved “taco lady” for some gossip and lunch. However, as I turned the corner to head her way it appeared I wasn’t the only one who had succeeded in her “shopping.” Ms. Fashionista sat on a park bench with none other then the strange man, who appeared to get less strange by the second as they sat so close I doubt a green bean would fit between them.
“Poor Mr. Jose may not sell out of his green beans today after all” I thought to myself, as taco lady caught my eye with a raised eyebrow. This would be a good lunch.
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