Yesterday I ventured off to Berberian's, which is a farmstand to beat all farmstands here in Northboro. Except for lettuce, of which there were endless field rows of a vast variety, including oakleaf, Boston, and buttercrunch, the summer vegetables are not quite in. A signed predicted corn for the weekend. The Berberian family, of which my old friend Patsy is a family member, always led the way in our neighborhood of market gardens. This Armenian family fled to the U.S. during their persecution by the Turks, from what I always understood, and they somehow became masters of agriculture in what was then a small Massachusetts town.
Toward the end of his life, Dad even rented out his fertile eight acres to them, as did the Weed family next door. Although Dad had always raised and sold vegetables at our shabby stand, which consisted of a table peeling paint and a rickety kitchen chair, he couldn't continue at the end of his life when he'd had stroke after stroke. The Berberians figured out how to put in an irrigation system from Farr's pond, which was something we'd never figured out to try in our market garden neighborhood.
The large Berberian stand sits behind their old homestead and it employs a lot of young people, who cut the greens off the beets in the backroom, or who man the scales at the checkout. I was selecting brussel sprouts, my feet and crutches feeling insecure on the wet cement floor, when a woman asked me how to cook them. Well, the best way, I told her, is to roast them in a little olive oil. I am surprised when people fear vegetables. We ate heaping bowls of them fresh from the garden all summer when I was a kid, sweat pouring down our faces and backs. We consumed massive bowls of fresh asparagus, picked only a few hours prior to dinner, and all the sweet corn that couldn't go out to the "road" for sale because it might have a small worm, easily removed.
I walked down the small hill to the mill pond when I left the stand. Armeno's sits across the street where the old mill used to be. They roast coffee beans in there. I was on a bender to get some great coffee to grind at home, but the traffic that careens up and down that hill was terrifying for a woman on crutches. Still, I got to hobble in and smell all those beans from all over the world.