My 82-year-old grandmother just tried her first jujube. Not the gummy, rainbow-colored candies you get at the movies, but the ancient Chinese fruit that looks like a nut and is sometimes called the "Chinese date." Crunchy and sweet like a pear, jujubes shrivel and soften as they ripen and are incredibly healthy—containing lots of calcium, potassium, riboflavin and vitamin C.
Bruce from Yingst Ranch in Littlerock, California—near Palmdale and Lancaster—urged her to try these fall fruits. She dove in and loved them. She was just as eager to try the Dragon fruits from Pedro's Certified Organic Ranch in Fallbrook too, but there weren't any samples and she was a bit scared off by the price tag of these exotic, kiwi-strawberry flavored fruits.
In fact, as we wandered around the Hollywood Farmers' Market together, my Bubbie ("grandma" in Yiddish) seemed willing to try just about anything including the chili peppers that Tezo from the South Central Farmers was roasting in a rotating grill that looks like the spinner used in bingo. (The mild ones were not her idea of mild, she told me, but they tasted good.)
Along with all of the unfamiliar produce we're lucky enough to have access to here in Southern California, she told me about the giant pomegranate tree that used to grow behind my great-grandparents apartment building on the Lower East Side of Manhattan as she picked some lovely, leathery skinned specimens for my husband and father at one of the many vendors who had them.
The market was filled with other fall treasures—quinces, crispy Asian pears and winter squash—plus the lingering delights of late-summer like heirloom tomatoes, Rosso Bianco eggplants, and every grape variety imaginable.
The countdown has officially begun for Sea Fever Seafood's California Spiny Lobster. The season officially opens on October 5th. I hope he'll have some at the market on Sunday, October 9, if the folks at the Santa Barbara Harbor & Seafood Festival on October 8 don't snag them all. Fortunately, though, the season lasts through the winter, so I'll be at the ready with my lobster bib the following week. Maybe I'll even invite my Bubbie over for dinner so she can add it to her list of farmers' market deliciousness she's tried this trip.
Hollywood Farmers' Market
Hungarian Sweet Peppers
California Spiny Lobster
About the Author: Food and wine writer Leah Greenstein is based in Los Angeles and she is a convert to the cult of invert sugar.