The Fullerton farmers market, the second-oldest in Orange County, celebrated its 18th anniversary last Wednesday. It's a large, enjoyable market with an intriguing mix of ethnic and conventional produce. Majestic ash trees provide shade, picnic tables encourage schmoozing and nibbling and the mulch-covered ground is more pleasant than the usual asphalt.
Carl Fetzner, who has farmed in Perris for 40 years, brought amaranth greens (a.k.a. pigweed), which are cooked like spinach; purslane; big flat spiny cactus pads (nopales); and serrano, Santa Fe Grande and cola de rata ("rat's tail") chiles, similar to cayennes.
Thongsai Phannavong of Hemet provided a cook's tour of Asia: Thai and Chinese eggplants, hyacinth beans (known as val dal in India), unusual Asian soybeans with striated pods, purple long beans and their greens, an assortment of Filipino squashes and wild bitter melons (small, bumpy and very bitter, beloved by Indians).
Lester Kirksey of Exeter had tan, sugary Hosui Asian pears, bright yellow Golden Supreme plums and Wickman plums so ripe they were bags of juice. He also sold luscious figs: Missions, Brown Turkeys, Kadotas and tiger-striped Panachees with strawberry pulp.
Bud and Mimi Hirayama, a mom-and-pop team from Riverside, offered watermelons, zucchini, carrots, yellow teardrop tomatoes, Italian sweet peppers and Japanese eggplant.
ACW Ranch had sapotes, collard greens and Reed avocados, a good summer variety. From Carson, Top Veg featured celeriac, and J Farms had yellow-skinned Asian cucumbers. The Lore stand sold a rainbow of Camarillo-grown heirloom tomatoes: red Amish Pastes, Cherokee Purples, bulbous pink Giant Belgians, Goldies and ruffled orange Tangerines.
Fullerton farmers market, Woodcrest Park, 450 W. Orangethorpe Ave., Wednesday, 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.