I fucking love the farmer’s market.
It’s not just that I’m some kind of food snob. It’s not just that I’d rather think local and eat local and support the little guy farmer over and above the aggro “big agra” executive. It’s not just that I like playing a game where I tally the number of Suburus, designer dogs, yuppies, hippies, old folks, and strollers.
It’s that sometimes, crazy shit happens at the farmer’s market. Maybe it’s something in the air. Maybe everybody’s goofy on rhubarb. No idea what it is, only that it is.
* * *
He’s the Honey Man, but also, the Egg Man.
The guy’s a ninja with his bees and bee-hives, and he’s got every type of honey you could imagine. Clover, wildflower, blueberry, knotweed. It’s the knotweed that’s most interesting and most complex: it’s thick and dark and tastes like scorched molasses (er, except, in a good way — it’s like the espresso of honeys). But he’s got the honeycomb and the bee pollen and all that shit.
But, as noted, he’s also got eggs.
His eggs are sublime. Farm eggs are like eggs pooped out of chicken-shaped angels. You get an egg from the grocery store, it’s fine, it’s suitable, it does the trick. But you don’t know real eggs until you’ve had one straight from a healthy itinerant chicken — the whites are whiter, the yolks are a sun-bright orange instead of a sad ochre, and overall the eggs just taste more… well, eggy. (This is the truest thing I can say regarding meat from healthy, well-bred livestock. It always tastes like the thing it already is, only moreso. Pork is porkier. Beef is beefier. And so on and so forth. It’s like the flavor volume goes to 11.)
Point is, the Honey Man, he also sells eggs, and this is why we dig him.
He’s a quirky dude, this Bee Guy. Ex-Marine. Ex-chemist. Built like an M1 tank. Teeth like a busted-ass jack-o-lantern. He frequently wears cut-off denim shorts so cut off they might as well be Daisy Dukes.
He’s a good guy, though. Quick with a story and a chat. Friendly as anything.
I went to the farmer’s market yesterday.
There, sitting at his booth is his girlfriend. Attractive. Maybe in her early 40s — and he’s in his 60s, I’d guess. She’s hay-blonde, and doing something that I thought blondes only did in books or movies: twirling her hair around her finger and staring blankly at nothing. I try talking to her, but she just calls for the Honey Man, and by “calls for” I mean, “lamely mumbles his name so he can’t hear her.”
Then I hear clucking. I look over and next to the table in the back is a big chicken cage where the Honey Man — acting as Egg Man — brought some chickens. The chickens begin to freak out. They’re chickens, after all, which pretty much means they’re dicks. Stupid dicks, at that. The fact you can lop a clucker’s head off and he’ll still live for days is a sign. Any creature whose only true need in this world is a barely-functioning brain-stem is not high on the intelligence list (though somehow Snooki still got a book deal).
See, the Egg Man, some the eggs he sells are blue. Not robin’s egg blue, but rather, a blue-gray hue — pretty, but you wouldn’t hang them from your ears or anything. Even still, the guy gets a lot of questions: “What kind of animal lays the blue egs?” as if he’s got a secret dodo farm off of the Turnpike. Thus he decided to bring in two of his hens since they’re a unique lot — the “Araucana” chicken.
Well, these two hens are, as noted, being dicks.
So, Egg Man storms over, grabs the cage with both hands, and gives it a violent shake.
CLANG CLANG CLANG.
Then he yells — loudly, in a farmer’s market full of sensitive yuppie-types and their delicate progeny —
“SHUT UP, YOU BITCH!”
And a chill filled the air.
Everyone paused. The bakery lady in the booth next had a look on her face like she just saw a circus geek bite the head off a poodle. People either stopped to stare or instead chose to hurry past.
It was awesome.
I don’t know if he was mad at the hair-twirling girlfriend and was yelling at her via her proxy, the exotic chicken. I don’t know if he just had some momentary PTSD. Maybe he’s just pissed off at chickens.
Egg Man then took the Araucana out of the cage and brought over this gnarly-footed lion-maned chicken to coo and burble in his denim-clad lap. Then I bought my eggs, chatted for a while, and went on my way.
But I love that moment where he dropped — in effect — a turd in the otherwise serene punchbowl of the farmer’s market. Blue eggs from bitch chickens.
You don’t see that shit at the grocery store.