by Erika Lesser
Cooking in public is a great way to meet people, and customers of the Cortelyou Greenmarket in Brooklyn are an interesting bunch. Every week, a storyteller and her wide-eyed, eager son come on the subway from Sheepshead Bay; young families with strollers tumble out of Victorian houses around the corner; Russian blondes and their mothers stiletto-stroll arm in arm.
It’s also our way of helping this young market put down roots in the neighborhood, and we do this in part for selfish reasons: we are lazy and hungry. My husband Jim and I live four blocks away, and we like being able to roll out on a Sunday morning, travel mug in hand, to buy food from people who pulled it themselves from the ocean, the dirt or the tree just the day before.
So last Sunday we did our second cooking demo of the season, with one goal: clambake. Forget digging a pit, gathering seaweed and waiting all day: instead we rigged the ideal city clambake, simplified and perfect for the backyard or even front stoop.
Jim laid mussels, littlenecks, steamers, a whole bluefish, one blue crab, corn, potatoes, artichokes, onion, oregano and butter on a bed of corn husks, wrapped it all in two layers of heavy duty foil and placed the entire package on a baby Weber grill. It took barely half an hour to cook, and before we knew it shoppers were crowding around with toothpicks, spearing their favorite bivalve or briny vegetable chunk.
It could not have been simpler, or a better excuse for chatting. We’ll be back next Sunday for our weekly market fix; what’s yours?
SFUSA Executive Director Erika Lesser and her husband Jim Hutchinson live in the Ditmas Park neighborhood of Brooklyn – also known as “the Paris of Siberia.”