By Jo Cooper
Gleaming black olives, dusty purple eggplants, emerald kale, a splash of scarlet tomatoes on freshly made golden corn tortillas. I cook with my eyes. Color matters, texture matters, flavor matters. I rarely use recipes. I find my art supplies at the farmer’s market on Saturday morning, and my favorite season is now, summer, when the market is brimming with seasonal surprises. Crisp sugar snap peas and sweet baby carrots (with ferny leaves still attached) to snack on. Red and golden beets, pink and white French breakfast radishes, organic blueberries, and Rainbow chard. I can smell the rosemary as I approach the herb table, and can’t leave without a bunch. There are 3 or 4 kinds of kale and pale green lettuces to melt in your mouth. The tomatoes are starting to come in, and little squashes, and tiny orange peppers so beautiful and hot you must use with caution. 6 kinds of mushrooms, purple potatoes, and new things each week. I never eat corn until it’s fresh in the farmer’s market. Cooking with the vibrant, fresh piles of produce that appear before you, rather than buying from a list, makes life intense and interesting. Slender asparagus, spring onions, and in late June, ruby red cherries. In my kitchen, my son and I chop and saute these lovely things, both familiar and new. We arrange our creations artfully, on plain or patterned plates, to appear to their best advantage. A fragrant treat for the eyes, redolent of the sun in which they grew, plucked by the strong hands of the farm crew, and cooked with love. What can I say but thank you.
Jo Cooper just retired after 9 years as Food As Medicine Program Manager and Director of Nutrition Programs at the Center, and is now our Marketing Director.