Friday, June 4, 2010

Wild and Domesticated Vegetables

Last weekend while out exploring we ran across two very different groups selling wonderful but also very different kinds of vegetables. (Yasai Otaku apparently have an innate ability to find vegetables in a 20 kilometer radius at all times.) While the domesticated variety are beloved here - eggplants, sweet potatoes, and squash to name but a few - there are a wilder sort that capture the hearts and taste buds of the Japanese each spring. Finding both on this little excursion was quite the treat!

Near Koenji Station we randomly chose to walk down one of the many small lanes full of shops, restaurants, and curiosities. One storefront on a corner caught my eye for its display of great looking vegetables - carrots, onions, cabbage, and potatoes, to name a few - and what looked like a steady stream of customers. While I eyeballed the kabu one friend asked after the beautiful bottles of carrot juice displayed on a back shelf, and another cased out the fresh brown eggs on offer. Appropriately named the Farm Market, the store is a cooperative effort between eleven farmers from the Izu Hanto area. Open every Saturday the prices were very reasonable, and we're looking forward to heading back again. (One of the farmers can also be found at the United Nations University Farmer's Market, too!)

A little further on we almost missed some lively ladies selling sansai (mountain vegetables) on a side street. Gathered around boxes full of a lovely assortment of greens and pickled vegetables these four ladies were worth the detour in themselves. Highly entertaining and enthusiastic purveyors of these Japanese wild food favorites, they offered tastings as well as cooking instructions. Vegetables on offer included some I'd met before while travelling with One Life Japan - fuki, warui, and warabi - but a number of others were new - shidokina, koshi abura, and miogadake - and very tempting. We came home with some new and old, along with a container of fuki no tou miso - a pesto like mix of fuki and miso that is simply delectable. This little entrepreneurial group also takes orders, and you can pick up a form when you stop by for a visit!

Going? Good! Grab a shopping bag, put on your walking shoes, and then remember to say hello for me. Meanwhile, here's what you need to know:

Farm Market Saturday Store
Station: Koenji on the Chuo Line, North Exit.
About a 15 minute walk from the station, but leave extra time for exploring the by-ways of this funky little area of Tokyo.

Saturday Sansai Market
Station: Asagaya on the Chuo Line, North Exit.
About a 15 minute walk from Asagaya, but again give yourself plenty of time to check out the area.


Anjuli said...

Lovely shops!! Love farmer's markets- and places to get ALL things fresh!! Loved the pics.

Joan Lambert Bailey said...

Thanks, Anjuli! They are great, and we feel so lucky to have found them. I'll keep searching!