“A produce show? Really mom?” That’s what my 16 year old exclaimed when he found out how excited I was to be attending the New York Produce show.
This vibrant event, located on Pier 94 on the west side of Manhattan, tantalized my taste buds and stimulated my culinary senses. I was fortunate enough to attend the media luncheon sponsored by Frieda’s, the produce company that first introduced the kiwi to America. Did you know that the kiwi fruit used to be called the Chinese Gooseberry? Neither did I! Apparently, Frieda Caplan, the founder of Frieda’s, changed it’s name and introduced kiwi fruit to the fresh produce section of grocery stores in the United States. And so began Frieda’s interest in expanding the culinary vegetable horizon with veggies like spaghetti squash, purple potatoes and even sunchokes, which are gaining in popularity.
I also heard James Beard award winner Maricel E. Presilla, author of Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America, list all of the flavorful and interesting Latin vegetables she’d like to see introduced in mainstream US supermarkets. (Hint hint Frieda’s!) (Maricel mentioned that it took her two decades to write the book and that she tested each and every recipe!) Florence Fabricant, NY Times writer and author, closed the luncheon with a homage to fresh produce illustrating how it is taking center stage in the culinary world. She praises the innovation of restaurant chefs for creating dishes made with fresh produce that rivals the usual protein on the menu. Fabricant also points out that chef’s are no longer proud to feature vegetables such as asparagus in the off season but more proud to offer what’s fresh in the on season. She also notes the pickling (or fermented) vegetable trend and I couldn’t agree more and have already jumped on board.
Times are changing, fresh is best. That was the obvious theme of the New York Produce Show. As I wandered through the expo booth after booth, ogling (and tasting) this myriad and endless rainbow of vegetables, I was walking on air. To be surrounded by all things fresh, colorful and natural was exhilarating. I left the show inspired that there are so many people and companies behind this movement to make fresh and farm grown produce readily available. I can’t wait to see what’s in store in the coming months.