Sans Meal Plan: Wriston Farmers Market

Way better than anything from Tastes of the World.

It’s difficult to imagine missing the Ratty until the Ratty is no longer an option.  The name itself leaves much to be desired… Regardless, many of the students who are living off-campus decide to take the plunge and go completely sans meal plan. So what do you do when your burrito-only diet has failed you and a trip to the grocery store is a voyage of epic proportions? You have two options: one, starve, but that gets really old really fast. Or, two, cook for yourself (omGASP!). Cooking is not only amazingly therapeutic and a remarkable procrastination tool (“oh, I’ll read those 300 pages after my cake is done…” –priorities, people, it’s cake!), but it will also solidify all of your present and future friendships—fast. As soon as that random guy in your Econ section learns that you make killer Nutella Brownies, he’ll have no qualms about letting you borrow his notes, hands down.

During this lovely fall weather (and by lovely, I mean miserable), options beyond hitchhiking to the grocery store are well within reach for at least a few months. Lucky for us spoiled hippy Brown students, we have a farmers’ market right on campus once a week: yay us! [For a list of every farmers’ market in the area, go here.]  Every Thursday between 11 and 2, local vendors try to pawn off their delicious produce and other edible goods on us poor and starving college kids. Now some of us know that farmers’ markets can be rather pricey, but a smart and saavy cook knows how to find deals, and great ones! To demonstrate this, I showed up at the farmers’ market with only ten dollars in my pocket (blashphemy, I know), determined to find food to feed me for not only one meal, but several meals.  Impossible, you say? Balderdash!

For fewer than 10 dollars, I managed to nab several apples and peaches, a container of grapes, a giant tub of organic and natural peanut butter, a huge bag of basil, a giant wad of mint, two eggplants, two zucchinis, cherry tomatoes, garlic, a bunch of scallion (bunch? get it?) and 2 red onions. I cannot tell a lie. I was able to make one of my favorite dishes of all time, a Mediterranean Eggplant and Zucchini Barley Salad with ingredients almost entirely from the farmers market. Lucky for me, I always keep barley around (for those of you who regularly cook, I would recommend always keeping some kind of dry grain in the pantry), but I’m sure quinoa or rice or even pasta would be wonderful. I left out the olives because, well let’s face it, olives are gross. And, (brace yourselves for the best news ever) I had enough food to feed me for about five meals—more when I supplemented with chicken stolen from the Ratty and given to me by my lovely roommates.

See? That wasn’t so hard! So today between 11 and 2, go to the farmers market and take on the ten dollar challenge; you never know what you’ll come up with! At the very least, you could buy three scones from Seven Stars, or a loaf of bread and make some kickass grilled cheese – I recommend Durum bread and some Atwells Gold from Narragansett Creamy…happy hunting!

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