Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Presidents of the United States of America -- "Peaches" (1995)

Peaches come from a can 
They were put there by a man
In a factory downtown

"Au contraire," I would say if I had the pleasure of meeting The Presidents of the United States of America (referring not to the 43 Chief Executives of our fine land, but rather to the Seattle-based indie band that released the song "Peaches" on their eponymous debut album in 1995).  "Peaches most assuredly do not come from a can.  They come from the farmer's market, of course!"

Here's a picture of the peach inventory (plus some pears) at the booth of one of the farmers who comes each Thursday between 3 PM and 7 PM to the farmer's market at 8th and E Streets, N.W., in the heart of your nation's capital.  

The market is situated only a block or two from the main Justice Department building, FBI headquarters, the IRS, and many other government buildings -- and it's less than a mile from where these peaches are sitting to the White House and the Capitol.

The building in the background is the National Archives, where the originals of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights are located:

Several of the farmers who are regulars at this market are pretty plain-vanilla -- peaches, tomatoes, green beans, strawberries, apples . . . that sort of thing.

But there are several purveyors of more exotic foodstuffs.

Like this "artisan sheep cheese" vendor:

One farmer sells these crazy "Delicata" squash (also known as "peanut squash" or 'Bohemian squash"):

My farmer's market is a producer-only market, and is limited to farmers from the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

There's a 22-page book of regulations you must comply with to sell at my market.

Here's the regulation on yogurt and frozen dairy products:

Yogurt and frozen dairy products must be made with milk produced by the farmer or sourced from a regional farmer.  Locally available flavoring agents (e.g., fruit or honey) must be sourced locally.  Exotic, out-of-region flavorings (i.e., chocolate, avocado, and pomegranate) may be purchased and used minimally.

I have a couple of questions.  First, who the hell puts avocado in yogurt or ice cream?  Second, why do they say "e.g." the first time and "i.e." the second time?

I don't eat that much fresh fruit and vegetables, and I really don't care if my produce is organic.  But for some reason, I like to think of myself as the kind of person who goes regularly to a farmer's market -- despite the fact that most of the people at my market look very politically correct and a little twee for my taste.  (Go figure.)

Twee squash
The refrain of today's featured song is "Movin' to the country/Gonna eat a lot of peaches."  I must demur from this refrain on two grounds.

First, I'm not moving to the country just to get fresh fruit -- I expect the country to come to me.

Second, I am not a big peaches eater.  My first priority is tomatoes -- especially cherry tomatoes.

I get enough cherry tomatoes each Thursday to have some every day for lunch.  I took this picture just after cutting a few in half.  Note how juicy these bad boys were -- merely cutting them in half causes them to squirt juice everywhere:

On Saturdays and Sundays, I enjoy my tomatoes with cottage cheese -- preferably al fresco.  On weekdays, I cut them in half, salt them, and enjoy them with the ham or turkey sandwiches I eat at a small table in my office while I read for half an hour or so.  (I am a creature of habit, as you would know if you had watched me eat baked salmon and French-style green beans every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday that I've been home for the last 20 years.)

This year, I've added cantaloupe to my midsummer shopping list.  I had never bought a cantaloupe in my life until this summer, so each week I sought the expert assistance of whichever cheery farm woman had the best melons.  (Rim shot!)  It's interesting that almost all of the farmers who man the booths at my farmer's market are women -- many of them relatively young.  After a few weeks, I was confident enough in my melon-judging abilities to sniff out a ripe one on my own.

There's no better breakfast to enjoy on sunny weekend mornings on my patio than perfectly ripe cantaloupe sprinkled with a little salt and accompanied by a paper-thin slice or two of prosciutto.  

The cantaloupe season in my part of the world is all too brief.  But just as the cantaloupes start to disappear, my farmer's market is awash in local apples.  There are many different varieties routinely available -- Mutsu, Nittany, Gala, Jonagold, Fuji, Ida Red, and several others -- but my favorite is Honeycrisp.  I stash a few in the communal fridge at my office and grab one around 5 or 6 PM when I'm tempted to hit the candy and soda machine.

Okra, tomatoes, apples, peaches,
raspberries, figs, green beans
(It takes self-discipline to maintain a svelte figure like mine, not to mention a 132 total cholesterol reading -- although I suppose you have to give some of the credit for that 132 to my daily Lipitor and Zetia intake.)  

My farmer's market closes after Thanksgiving and reopens in the spring.  There is a year-round one in hippy-dippy, Birkenstock-shod Takoma Park (where I think there's a law requiring you to buy your produce there rather than any grocery store operated by a for-profit, publicly-traded corporation -- excepting Whole Foods, of course) and I get my apples there in the winter when my refereeing assignments take me to that part of the county.

The local cherry tomatoes won't last much longer here.  One of the nice lady farmers at my local market told me last week that she expected to have them up until the first frost, but that's not far away.  That, boys and girls, will be a very sad day here at 2 or 3 lines.  :-(

I can't resist quoting the following paragraph from the Wikipedia page about "Peaches":

The lyrics of "Peaches" discuss a man moving to the country to eat vast quantities of canned peaches at no cost to him.  Briefly mentioned is the hard-working American man who cans the peaches in a factory downtown.  The narrator also speculates that a finger-sized hole in a singular peach may hold an ideal hiding spot for an ant.  He then warns the listener; "Look out!" he calls.  There's a finite number of free peaches for him.  Luckily, that number is in the millions.

I tip my cap to the anonymous Wikipedia contributor who wrote this deathless prose.  I have nothing to add -- you've said it all, my friend.

Here's "Peaches":

Click here to buy the song from Amazon:

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