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Succulent berries, fresh veggies and fruit in abundance at roadside stand

 

On our way from point A to point B, riding along Madison Street this afternoon, I did a double take at the sight of a roadside vegetable stand. Basically, a small table laden with okra, beans, strawberries and succulent tomatoes. We continued on to our destination, but hurried back to check it out.

I’ve suffered roadside fruit stand deprivation since I left New England, where it seems we could buy garden fresh produce on every other corner in town, walk or take a bus to the farmers markets, and never have to buy produce from a grocery store in summer. My favorite was fresh still-damp-with-dew butter and sugar corn (bi-colored corn), driven to the stand straight from the field. And yellow beans (which barely seem to exist here in the south).

We parked the car and I bailed out, already inhaling the scent fresh strawberries. Sold. And there, in a bin at my my feet, were succulent ears of that treasured bi-colored corn. Okay, I know this came from Florida, but the ears were plump, the leaves still moist and green, no indications of frost or freezing, and the kernels looking as good as they would fresh off the stalk. Sold. It was a toss up between the cantaloupes and the green beans, but, well, I already have other veggies at home. I opted for the melon, feeling its weight, inhaling that hint of the tender fruit inside. Sold.

I looked wistfully at long deep bins of fresh Okra. I remembered an evening meal at my friend Debbie’s, with a skillet overflowing with finely sliced okra simmering, sizzling. Mouthwatering. I’d never had Okra before; it wasn’t something my mom ever cooked, so I was eager to try it cooked at the hand of someone who knows how. It will have a return engagement, this time in my kitchen. Just not today. I mean, how many veggies can the most die-hard veggie eater consume anyway? Better to make repeat visits and grab everything fresh. I passed on the tomatoes too, even though I felt my hand reaching for one or two.

Eddie, packaging up another customer’s purchases.

The vendor, Eddie, emerged from the back of his van with a smile, extolling the virtues of his produce. Over his shoulder, I could see more of the melons inside the truck, more corn, more berries.

“Go ahead, taste one before you buy.”

Well, you don’t to have to ask me twice. Me, who spends “time” picking berries fresh from the New England fields in June. never missed an opportunity. Once, On my way home from a lovely luncheon, my friend and I stopped by a field. Unabashed, he is his dress pants and sharp sport shirt, me in a white gauzy summer dress, big hat and sandals, walked into the fields, feet sinking into dirt and straw, bending low to pick those berries warming in the summer sun. As the juice from this sample berry slid over my tongue, I remembered how much I enjoyed picking berries, or simply pulling up to a stand, dropping two dollars in a tin can and bringing home a quart of berries — every day.

I tasted the berries. Sold.

I smiled at Eddie. Handed over my payment and gathered up my purchases. Smug as a Cheshire cat.

Eddie (a.k.a. E & D Produce) will have this little stand at the corner where Gateway Towing and Recovery sits (518 Madison). On weekends, Eddie shifts his stock to the Flea market at Fort Campbell Boulevard and Dover Road, across from Krogers. He also markets potted plants, but the gardener in me was too side tracked by the succulent edibles to pay attention to the flowers. I guess that will happen next time I shop at Eddie’s stand. For more information on E & D Produce call 931.627.2650.

P.S. Half the berries were gone before I got home!

Photos by Bill Larson



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