August 13, 2009
Saturday mornings during the summer, Guillermo and I like to go to our local farmer's market to buy super-fresh seasonal goods. In Bowen, they do that, too–only it's a pair of Russian ladies who set up card tables neatly covered in tablecloths and sell goods they make themselves.They set up this 'farmer's market' in a shelter that's usually used as the bus stop (hence the brick) which they cover with a tarp to protect from the sun.
The area around Bowen is called La Scandinavia, and was settled by Russian and Ukrainian émigrés, many of whom became (and still are) dairy farmers. Since it's an agricultural community, Bowen folk are buying things from these ladies they don't do themselves–home-canned, homemade tomato sauce, or peaches, for example.
The highlight of this mercadito is what we would call Raw Milk in the States–unpasteurized cow's milk. Stateside it involves buying a share of the cow to get its 'illegal' milk. In Bowen, the market proprietress here simply washed out a soda bottle and filled it with cow's milk to sell it. Next to that, (in the first photo) you can see her bottles of homemade wine–vino patero. Pata means paw (or foot, in this case) so the translation is loosely that it is 'wine stomped by foot'. Very homemade!
We bought one of the bags of ricotta shown here, made from the cow's milk I mentioned. Without a doubt, it was the creamiest, tangiest, freshest ricotta to ever cross my tastebuds. My version of ricotta casera is ok, but oh, those grass-fed, happy Bowen cows producing Raw Milk–it was amazing! When we returned home, my mother-in-law made us Verenikis, a Ukrainian specialty. Verenikis are little dumplings filled with ricotta and potato, and then they are boiled. The next day, those boiled ones are fried up in a skillet.
I wanted to share this little 'farmer's market' of sorts in Bowen. I found it to be such a delight–two enterprising women, selling a few homemade things from their farm. It's these tiny treasures that are too fast disappearing from the world (even Bowen isn't immune–Atomo, their first major chain supermarket, opened last year, pushing smaller mom and pop shops out). Thankfully, the community still produces many things that are consumed locally–from chickens, pigs, and cows, to quince jelly to briny olives and pomegranates.