Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bow chicka Chow Chow!

Do you know what chow chow is?

No, not the dog with the blue tongue.

Chow chow is a tangy relish type of dish, mostly in the south, but also in Pennsylvania and New Mexico according to Wikipedia. It is a "pickled relish" but it is not "pickle relish". It is made from green tomatoes, cabbage, sweet & hot peppers, other veggies and the typical pickling agents. It is typically used as a condiment on things like hot dogs, bbq, and pinto beans.

My first experience with chow chow was when I stocked grocery aisles in Jacksonville, FL when I was 18 years old. There was this jar of nasty looking stuff with a yellow label and a "way too happy" guy's face plastered on it. Having that guy staring at you while you're working at 3 in the morning is kind of creepy.

I decided right then, "Ewwwww, I HATE chow chow."

Almost 25 years later at the Market Square Farmer's Market this past weekend, I had the chance to sample some chow chow at the booth for Sherie's Garden Style products, including her Hot Chow Chow. I managed to get over my long held bias and try it.

Wow, I stand corrected. I do like chow chow, especially hot chow chow. I bought two jars.

I had some on a grilled hot dog this weekend.

I put some on a pulled pork sandwich at lunch today. I didn't say it was pretty, but you wouldn't look at a king crab or lobster and say, "Dang, I just want to eat that!" would you? (Yes, sadly I took a picture of my leftovers lunch at work on a paper plate).

I tried it on pinto beans.

It has a sweet heat to it with a vinegar kick that I like. Being "garden style" it is a more rustic cut that adds a lot of texture to dishes. It reminds me of a spicy vinegar based slaw or maybe giardiniera. It's much more exciting than sauerkraut and it is kind of what I imagine kimchi would taste like. The thing I like about the hot chow chow is that she adds sweet, jalapeno, AND habanero peppers, a great combination.

I admit it is one of those things you will either LOVE or HATE. I just happened to find out that I am in the love camp.

If you live around here, you can get Sherie's Hot Chow Chow at the Market Square Farmer's Market on Saturdays (maybe on Wednesday's too, I never get down there then) for $5 for one jar, $9 for two. They also sell salsa but I haven't tried it yet. You can also order it online at Armadillo Pepper for $5.95 a jar. I found that site when I googled Sherie's products. They carry a bunch of interesting products, so even if you don't like the idea of chow chow, you might want to check them out.

Farmer's Market
Some other things I've been enjoying about our weekly trips to the Market Square Farmer's Market include

Farm fresh eggs, Locust Grove Farm's Cumberland Cheese (a peppery sheep's milk cheese, but their Manchego rocks too), and fresh baked cheddar jalapeno bread made the best breakfast sandwich.

Spending time with Alexis and Trevor hanging out in one of the best downtown environments I have ever visited. The only time I've been to downtown on a Saturday in any other city was to see a building get imploded.

The adjacent park is cool literally.....and figuratively....

Finding new things I haven't tried before like Black Seed Simpson Lettuce which is as pretty as green leaf but doesn't have the bitter edge that some more ornamental lettuces do. It rocked in a simple salad with avocado ranch dressing (make one 'recipe' of ranch dressing and blend with 1 peeled/seeded avocado & 1 Tb cayenne pepper in a blender for 1 minute).

The family environment, Trevor took this picture of a kid playing in the splash fountains in Market Square. I love seeing what he captures when he takes my camera for a few minutes.

We always have to pay a visit to Earth To Old City, one of the stores at Market Square with eclectic merchandise like this.

[Standard Disclaimer] applies as always but I don't know any of these folks and paid full price for anything I bought.

Wow. I've rambled on. Tell me something "bow chicka wow wow" about your favorite local market.