Farmers Market with Papa, From Opening Bell to Bullbats
In 1940 he-man novelist Ernest Hemingway published “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” whose title is taken from a 1620-something sermon by reformed-rake/poet-pastor John Donne.
So concludes the educational portion of our program.
Let us return posthaste, dear children, to the subtextual question inherent in he-man Hemingway’s homage-to-Donne title, “For whom doth the bell toll?”
The answer is obvious to anyone in downtown Newberry on a summer Saturday morning. At 9 a.m. in Memorial Square, the bell rings for you and for me at the Farmers Market.
No sales are made before the bell, but green-thumbed neighbors and proud-smiling farmers arrive early to set out their bounty of tomatoes and squash, cucumbers and corn, blackberries and okra, eggplant and more.
Buyers arrive early, too. They wander table to table, studying the vegetables and fruit, hunting for the juiciest, the sweetest, the freshest.
When the opening bell rings at 9 a.m., some angel gets his wings, of course—it is a ‘Berry wonderful life—and the hunt begins in earnest.
For recipes in this issue of Newberry Magazine, gazpacho and herb-butter toast, you will want to hunt for tomatoes and cucumbers, peppers and scallions, radishes and parsley, herbs and home-baked bread (sourdough, please).
A word of caution, children. The first week of sweet corn, the stampede gets ugly. Stand back or wear riot gear.
Oh yes, Hemingway would have loved our Farmers Market. He greatly enjoyed a spirited brawl, a successful hunt, and good simple food.
For those three reasons it seemed appropriate to invite Hemingway into our food discussion this month, but truth be told—yes, Virginia, truth is real, just fallen into disfavor—Hemingway is not among my all-time favorite authors.
In my humble opinion, his every novel should have been sold with a prescription for anti-depressants. That said, I find Papa Hemingway’s appreciation for food and drink commendable. After all, he did write “A Moveable Feast” about Paris.
“In war or peace, Ernest Hemingway was never too busy for food,” wrote Ed Bruske in the “Washington Post.” He added that Hemingway liked to eat, preferred what was local, and while in Cuba, kept his own garden.
Except for the mention of Cuba instead of Bush River or Pomaria, sounds like ‘Berry folks, doesn’t it?
Also like ‘Berry folks, Hemingway was known to be hard-headed stubborn, and once he set his mind on doing something—say, rescuing culinary treasures of Paris from the Nazis—consider it done.
After the Allied invasion of France, Hemingway was warned repeatedly about the dangers of joining the fight, but on August 25, 1944, he entered Paris and set about liberating the City.
With pistol in hand, he first secured the Ritz Hotel bar (and wine cellar), then he promptly ran up a bar tab for 51 martinis. He celebrated later with cold beer and warm sausages after liberating Brasserie Lipp.
Amazing, 51 martinis and then a few beers. Only one thing to say about that: Paris must have a big ol’ flock of bullbats.
The Hemingway Daiquiri and Bullbat Time
Whatever place he lived, worked, visited or liberated, Hemingway’s name became irrevocably linked with a bar or a beverage.
After the war, the bar at the Ritz was named Hemingway’s.
Before he could afford the Ritz, though, as a young man Hemingway frequented Harry’s New York Bar.
Harry’s has been a favorite of Americans since it opened near Place de L’Opera in 1911. Its walls were decorated through the years with hundreds of American college and university pennants, and about 15 years ago, Andy Hawkins and Henry Summer took pennant in hand and added Newberry College to the number.
During our pilgrimage to Harry’s, Andy and I paid our respects to a section of the bar we assumed that Papa knew well. Thanks to a well-tipped look-out (eager-to-please waiter Hans), Andy and I can say with pride we have no degrees of separation from the very same John with which Hemingway was once intimately acquainted.
Moving on to other Hemingway haunts, Key West has “Sloppy Joe’s.” Perhaps you’ve had the sandwich?
In Cuba it’s the Floridita, where Papa developed not one but two daiquiris.
I know, daiquiris fell out of fashion in the 1980s, but while the blender is out for gazpacho—
Hemingway liked his daiquiri with refreshingly-tart grapefruit juice, and his version is made no-nonsense with no-sugar. As he might say, “The rum is plenty enough sweet for a he-man manly man, thank you, m’am.”
Not every m’am would agree. Daughter Buffy and her sweet-young-delightful friends Jessica and Sara recommend a sugar-rimmed glass.
As an ol’ broad, I stand with ol’ Papa (and probably Andy Rooney) on the perpetual appeal of puckered-sour, but you can add whatever level of sweetness suits y’self.
These ingredients are not found at the Farmers Market, but they do have health benefits. Vitamin C builds the immune system. Grapefruit improves heart health and reduces the risk of kidney stones, limes brighten your skin and lower blood sugar, and rum—
Rum almost rhymes with fun, which reduces stress and increases energy.
In other words, a now-and-again Hemingway daiquiri at Bullbat Time can be good for you.
Ah, Bullbat Time...
While Papa is visiting, it seems like a good time to re-visit the story.
As some of you remember, Bullbat Time is the Newberry-ism for early evening. The name is taken from a night bird, the bullbat, who flies forth at dusk in search of dinner.
In the 1920s at the upper end of Main St., several society ladies would gather on one porch or another to watch for the blessed bullbat to take flight.
At the sweet first flutter of a bullbat wing, the ladies in rockers would point to the sky and declare, “There goes one now!”
That would signify, of course, that “five o’clock somewhere” had arrived.
Only then could they respectably retreat to one parlor or another for the giggly gurgle of pouring gin, the rattle of shaken ice, the sparkle of fading sunlight on martini glasses.
Oddly enough, the evening bird that is known to fly only at dusk was seen on occasion—”Look, there goes one now!”—as early as 3 or 4 p.m., but some mysteries defy human understanding.
There were no mysteries, however, about the immutable etiquette of Bullbat Time. The governing principles were absolute, rooted in a more chivalrous and gracious era.
* No lady would ever dream of having more than one cocktail, but no gentleman would ever dream of failing in his duty to “freshen” a lady’s drink. Often. And cheerfully.
* No gentleman would ever remark upon a lady’s thirst. No, not ever.
No doubt Hemingway would be immensely proud to have his Special Daiquiri included in the gracious Newberry tradition of Bullbat Time.
—”Look, there goes one now!”
If a daiquiri has some health benefits, those benefits can be multiplied many times over for gazpacho—not that I have always known what that is.
In college if someone had mentioned gazpacho to me, I would have thought the conversation had turned to those long, loose pants that billowed behind you and ahead of you so that you tripped over the hem in every direction including sideways—
OK, gauchos were a mistake in 1972, and cold soup was not something people served intentionally.
Gauchos still don’t work for me, but I have come to enjoy gazpacho. Not only is it refreshing on a hot day, the health benefits are wow-impressive. Let me give you a “taste.”
Tomatoes are good for your skin and bones, kidneys and blood pressure, cholesterol and digestion. Cucumbers protect your brain as it ages and fight infection. Parsley de-toxifies and prevents bad breath.
Garlic helps with blood pressure and cholesterol. Olive oil is heart-healthy and fights Alzheimers. Onions reduce the risk of cancer.
Aside from the health benefits, gazpacho is not difficult to prepare, and tastes truly amazing. The fresher the ingredients, the better, which is why the Farmer’s Market is your gazpacho’s best friend.
May I add: your support of our local ag community is greatly appreciated.
While at Market, look for tomatoes that are ripe to over-ripe, deep red in color and soft as a baby’s cheek—vine-ripened, rich tomatoes so juicy you would slice them over the sink to make a sandwich.
Look for small-ish green, firm cucumbers. (If you use waxed cukes from the grocery store, peel them.)
Be on the look-out, too, for onions or scallions, herbs, radishes, red and green bell peppers, perhaps a jalapeno.
When you return home from the Farmers Market, go ahead and prepare your gazpacho for supper, since it must be chilled 4-6 hours.
You will use a blender (immersion works great) for tomatoes, and veggies can be chopped with a food processor or old-fashioned knives.
Tomatoes are pulverized, and other veggies are finely diced and added for texture: celery, green peppers, scallions, squash, carrots. Radishes add some heat, but for hot-hot, there is jalapeno.
To de-seed or not to de-seed? For a jalapeno, yes, because of the heat—but for crying out loud, other seeds are fiber. Forget what your mother told you about watermelons. No plant will grow out of your nose if you swallow seeds. Leave ‘em.
The recipe here is from a church cookbook, but several suggestions for variations are presented, with veggies and herbs and sauces.
Whatever you do, your gazpacho will be better than the ancient recipe.
According to kitchenproject.com, Roman soldiers brought cold soup to Spain, and Andalusian folks loved it. The recipe called for stale bread, olive oil and garlic, combined with water or vinegar, pulverized in a mortar. Veggies and nuts were added, blah-blah-blah.
Sounds not great, right? Then, hurray, Columbus discovered tomatoes and cucumbers in the New World. Gazpacho sailed the ocean blue and travelled widely after 1492. Bello! Bravo! Perfecto!
A word of caution about herbs. Many “herb minors” can be cast in supporting roles for gazpacho, but two “herb majors” vied for the leading role in my production.
I love cilantro, and I love basil. Should both be used? No. Big NO.
Why not? Consider this experiment. Say you love funky James Brown. Say you love mellow James Taylor.
Go to YouTube and play “Get On Up” and “Carolina In My Mind,” full volume at the same time.
Why yes, I did that. Result? Fingers-on-the-blackboard agitation and auditory whiplash capable of causing damage at the cellular level.
Verily I say unto thee: One James at a time in your music, one dominant flavor at a time in your gazpacho.
Serve gazpacho in chilled bowls, garnish to be summer-time beautiful. Sour cream is traditional, but roasted corn (if you can get some without injury to yourself or your people) is also good.
Don’t color inside the lines, children. Have fun and make it pretty.
Grammar police know that a compound sentence is two or more sentences. Compound butter is much the same. Take butter, add another flavor. Voila.
As fans of “The Bachelor” know, too, not every pairing works.
We want a flavor that complements, not overpowers, the butter. Do not use garlic by the pound or rosemary by the tablespoon in herb butter.
After all, butter is a many-splendored gift of nature, and we must allow not one smidgen to be kicked around by a bully.
Compound butters may be made, to paraphrase Tina Turner, nice and easy or nice and rough.
The easy method is to soften butter at room temperature, blend in the second flavor with a fork.
The rough method is to whip the butter, which makes the butter lighter and combines ingredients more evenly.
The butter is then rolled in waxed or parchment paper and refrigerated to set. Slices can be cut from the roll as needed. Or, you can use a candy mold to make fancy pats of butter.
No need to bother with all that for our purposes. Right from the bowl, spread the compound butter over 1/2 to 3/4-inch rounds of sour dough baguette. Toast and serve with the gazpacho.
For dessert, serve honey butter on warm sour dough bread. No need to toast.
Wait, wait, wait—
This is the ‘Berry. There is always need to toast!
To sweet summers in the Center of the Universe—
To gentlemen who “freshen” and never comment on ladies’ thirst—
To the Farmers Market bell that gives veggies to all and angels their wings—
Wings? “There goes one now!”
Yes, let us toast to the Bullbat tradition. Papa would approve.
As Hemingway did not say, “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Newberry, then wherever you go in your life, it stays with you, for all of Newberry is a moveable feast.”
Yes, indeed, and happy hunting at the Farmers Market.