Inspiration from the Market

July 25, 2010

As a cook, I go through food ruts. Those times when not even Emeril can convince me that a generous sprinkling of "BAM!" will resuscitate my flat-lining passion for chicken. I simply can't kick it up any more notches, Mr. Lagasse.

The remedy? Heading to the market.

I could get lost in a grocery store. And not just because the end caps on the aisles look strangely similar. Wasn't that tortilla chip display in the produce section just a moment ago? No, I get lost in that, "This place is like Candy Land for adults," sort of way. Eagerly spying sales and rainbow-hued fare in the same way I did at age seven, scouring the Gumdrop Mountain for Queen Frostine.

Just browsing the bins of zucchini, avocado, heirloom tomato, and squash is enough to revamp my dinner repertoire. So much promise in the produce. Whole Foods becomes an activity; farmers markets a day trip. It's the color scheme, the freshness, and the palatable possibility that excite me.

I'm reminded to eat seasonally. I feel less overwhelmed when I don't try to plan meals based upon options listed in the twenty-page index of "Joy of Cooking," but instead focus on what's fresh now. And those items? The ones that are so fresh that they smell as divine as they look and taste? They're worth any cost. Auctioning a kidney or two. Whatever you can spare.

Yesterday, in a few hours of sunshine shopping, I picked up a week's worth of groceries. And by week's worth I mean a year supply. A mix of staples, old stand-by's, and stuff I'd never heard of. I've now got a fridge filled with ingredients for suppers that celebrate summertime, Seattle, and by the looks of it, squash.

What about you? Where do you find your cooking inspiration?

-Andrea Mitchell, Foodista staff and blogger at



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Jennifer Clowers's picture

Big, beautiful, brand new cook books with lots of pictures do it for fact, I am waiting for one to arrive in the mail! Also, any cooking mag. I subscribe to Bon Appetit and Cooking Light...they have incredible recipes!

Lana's picture

Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment.
Farmers markets are a therapy for me, too. I can go without fancy shoes and the most fashionable perfume, but I cannot go without red, orange, yellow and green produce, knowing that a lot of great meals are awaiting to be prepared.
I envy you your fresh produce outlets. SoCal cannot compare with the Northwest, but we have to try:)
My daughter attends UC Berkley, and I am planning a weekend visit in September. Farmers markets and the Berkeley Bowl are a must!
Greetings from California!

Anne @ Food Loving Polar Bear's picture

I wish we had Farmer's Markets like that, it would give me an endless inspiration too!

I usually get my inspiration from blogs.

Gabi's picture

I went to this market when I was in Seattle at the beginning of the summer and I could stop photographing the flowers! I barely even noticed the food!

I am actually stuck in a bit of a rut right now myself. I have just spent two episodes of Dollhouse flipping through David Tanis' A Platter of Figs.

When I need inspiration I usually flip through cookbooks, but I actually wrote a post almost a year ago now about how to combat chef's block. You've inspired me to go back and take my own advice ;)

Thanks Andrea!

Carla's picture

Hi, I just saw your comment on my Lemon Icebox Cookies featured on Sotto Il Sol Catering blog. I hope you can check out my site for more desserts and eats! So are you located in Seattle? I'm from Portland, OR so I have visited the city dozen of times. I love going to Pikes Market when I visit, although I miss the fish flying through the air!

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