I arrived right before it was supposed to close. The lot and most of the vendor's tables were empty. Figuring I'd have less than twenty minutes to peruse what was left, I rushed into the lot, only to be stopped by a husky security guard who told me to wait by the curb because it wasn't open yet.
So much for accurate island journalism.
Three women were already sitting on the curb, conversing rapidly in Hawaiian. I was encouraged by the lack of a crowd. But within ten minutes it looked more like Macy's during the Christmas holidays.
As opening time approached, a woman came to warn the crowd about running, pushing, shoving, and taking care with children and the elderly. I braced myself for Black Friday with mangoes.
When the whistle blew I realized that my laid-back vacation mode was going to put me at a disadvantage vis-a-vis produce. There were so many unfamiliar varieties to gawk at, so many appealing colors and textures. "Can I take a photo of your vegetables?" was a sentence that often followed my polite greetings.
And the tables were indeed crowded. My dawdling meant I missed some of the choicest selections. My stash consisted of soursop, mountain apples, tomatoes, passion fruit, finger-sized eggplants, sweet onions, lychee, wormy squash blossoms (I did not know they were wormy), and wing beans.
|Really, would you have guessed those squash blossoms were wormy?|
The seaweed-y things on the right are the wing beans. (I thought they looked a bit prehistoric and fit the Jurassic Park feel here.) I threw them in the with the eggplant, onions, and greenish tomatoes for a makeshift ratatouille.
I cooked the squash blossoms after a thorough cleaning. An old, tasty family recipe. Still, I could not forget the worms that had died a watery death in my sink. I had to remind myself with every squeamish mouthful that I'd boiled the blossoms first and that worms are a protein staple in many places.
As for the rest, the apples were unripe, the sour sop was (surprise!) sour, and the passion fruits incited puckering, not passion.
The lychee, however, were more than worth fighting for.