My mom is a remarkable cook. And, she's always understood how much better food tastes when you use fresh, local ingredients. One of my favorite childhood memories was accompanying her to the local farmstand we fondly referred to as "The Cow." If you're wondering how on earth we came up with that name for a farmstand, the answer is, we didn't. That's what everyone in Durham called it. Truth is, it wasn't just a farmstand. It was actually a drive through/around convenience store with a GIGANTIC cow standing on the roof. I'm not joking. The actual building stood roughly 9 feet long by 5 feet wide, only slightly smaller than our station wagon when we pulled up along side it. There was a sliding glass door on each side of the tiny structure. This made it really easy for Mr. Cates to move from side to side and attend to whomever pulled up to either door. During the winter, our trips to The Cow were to grab quick staples like; milk, butter, bread and cigarettes.
Summertime was different. Just outside The Cow was a big empty dirt lot. When summer rolled around, they would raise a temporary cotton canopy on aluminum poles and a few local farmers would back their pick-up trucks into the lot. Their truck beds were teeming with fresh corn, tomatoes, cantaloupes, and peaches. My mom would hand me a small brown paper bag and allow me to pick out the tomatoes. To this day, nothing reminds me more of those sweet childhood memories with my mom than the scent that lingers on my fingertips when I hold a tomato that's just been picked off the vine.
The Cow still stands on Chapel Hill Road in Durham. But now, it's a Tienda. And thankfully, it's become a lot easier to find fresh local produce. The Durham and Carrboro Farmers Markets have never been busier. And, they are as different as the towns in which they reside. While the Durham Market has a more urban flavor, with food trucks and musicians lining the side streets, the Carrboro Market tends to be quieter, smaller and has a comfortable home town feel. You are just as likely to run into some of our famous local chefs like Bill Smith of Crook's Corner, Amy Tornquist of Watts Grocery, or Scott Howell of Nana's, at either place.
Both of these amazing markets display an equally spectacular feast for the senses.