RED BANK: SMUT AND WEED AT THE MARKET

082414 rbfarmers mktCorn smut, or huitlacoche,  for sale at the Twin Pond Farm table.   (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

morsels mediumThe Red Bank Farmers’ Market can be counted on as a great source of fresh-picked tomatoes, corn on the cob and sunflowers, all of which and more PieHole found in abundance last Sunday.

And then there were the oddball items, one of which came with an eyebrow-raising name.

“Corn smut is what it’s called,” said Jen from Twin Pond Farm in Howell,  referring to the strange amalgam on the table between us. We looked from her to the container and back, thinking maybe we didn’t hear her correctly. “Corn smut is a fungus and a delicacy that came from some blue Peruvian corn we are growing,” she added.

Returning home, we found recipes for corn smut in a Mexican cookbook, and it is, indeed, considered a delicacy. Used in a quesadilla with cheese, it isn’t that different from a mushroom.

082414 rbfarmers mkt3Anatolian weed, commonly known as purslane was also found at the farmers market. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

Later, as we waited in line to pay for two heads of cabbage and a bunch of cilantro, the customer behind us squealed, “Oh, they have the weeds in again.”

Of course, we had to ask what weeds she was talking about. Turns out, a weed common to gardens and lawns in the area – Anatolian weed, or Purslane – is edible and good for you. The person in line with us was kind enough to say it has a lemony flavor, and when sauteed with oil has the slick consistency of spinach. It’s also high in vitamins C and E, Omega-3 fatty acids, and has six times the nutrients of spinach.

You never know what will show up at the market, but going in with an open mind is a good idea. Now, having been schooled on two new ingredients, this PieHole reporter is considering trying one, and the other – well, it’s always good to know a food’s origins.

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