Saturday, July 25, 2009

Billings, Roundup markets

The drive to Roundup was flat and tree-lined. It's definitely cow country, but a different sort than elsewhere in the state. Roundup itself is a pleasant, nondescript town, but when I saw the sign proclaiming "Flea Market" pointing toward my destination, my heart dropped.

But that goes to show that you never know what you'll find. Peggy Jones, who runs the market, says she prefers to call it a "Saturday Market" rather than a farmers market so that anyone can join in and sell things.

Their one produce vendor wasn't there today because the vegetables are behind schedule. But I did find cookies, herbs, and gooseberries. Unfortunately, I'm not terribly fond of gooseberries. The ripe ones taste just like the unripe ones, in my opinion.

I took a few photos and began driving out of town. But then I stopped and turned around. This was the only time I've seen 50 pounds of gooseberries for sale, and I thought there must be some sort of story to get out of it.

Sure enough, Christa was eager to share her recipe (more on that after I've made it . . .) and talk about how to enjoy gooseberries. She likes eating them right off the bush, but since her recipe makes a sort of jam, she also enjoys them on toast (first slathered with sour cream; it's a German thing, Christa explained) and in a tart that includes a layer of vanilla pudding and whipped cream.

After she poured about 1 pound of berries into a bag for me, I asked how much I owed her. "Oh, nothing," came the reply. And that, friends, is what it's like to visit a small-town farmers market.

On to Billings. I visited the Billings Farmers market last fall, but since it was on the way home from Roundup, I stopped in again today.

Billings is the big city in these parts; the biggest in the state, in fact, with just over 98,700 people living there. So of course the farmers market is big, covering about 5 blocks with every sort of food you can imagine.

I like it because I get to eat eggrolls! You can buy whole Asian meals to go, or tamales, or just a cupcake. You can also buy lots of vegetables, from Hutterites, from children, from women who like to dig in their back yards. You can listen to classical music or original pieces played rhythmically on overturned buckets. You can rent a small red wagon from the West High Majorettes so you can enjoy a carefree stroll, pulling your precious possessions behind you. The gals will even help you carry things to your car if you ask them.

It's a fine market to spend a morning in.

The following are a few photos I took.

And by the way, my last stop was at the cupcakes. I said I wanted to try each of the four flavors (vanilla, chocolate, pumpkin, and strawberry), and Carmelita said she'd give me two of each for the same price. She had sold many during the day, but as it neared noon she just wanted to get rid of the rest. And that is what you might experience even at bigger markets here in Montana.

Billings Farmers Market
Downtown, under the Skypoint
June 18 - October 3
Saturday, 8:30 am - noon
In August (5th - 26th)
Wednesday, 4:30 - 8 pm

Roundup Saturday Market
Busy Bee parking lot
May 23 - September 26
Saturday, 9 am - 1 pm

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to the report on the gooseberry jam recipe--calls for a bit of sugar, I imagine!