Arugula Rising

There will be arugula at the market tomorrow. Sophie Morgiewicz called this morning to say her son, Joe had come in from the fields yesterday with the happy news: the peppery green planted after Irene's pummeling was ready for market. Buckets of rain flooded other fields yesterday but the mighty arugula was spared.Now, we just have to ward off an early frost. Farming is not an easy life. But it's one that's impossible to give up if you've got it in your blood. The friendly young man who has been helping out at the Taliaferro tent since Irene struck owned a small organic farm and sold his produce at Greenmarkets in the city. He didn't lose a few acres, he lost everything. He's been cobbling together odd jobs to stay afloat. When I asked him last Saturday what he planned to do next, he looked at me quizzically as if I'd asked him whether he'd put his pants on that morning. "I am a farmer, " he said. "That's who I am."

And, you market shoppers, are a caring bunch. From the freckle-faced girl who emptied out her piggy bank to the families who pooled all of their tag sale money to one elderly woman I know who parted with more money than she probably should have, you gave to the Irene Relief Fund in astonishing amounts. Tomorrow we will present Taliaferro and Morgiewicz with your donations of the last three weeks. Of course, it pales in comparison to what was lost but it's the kind of gesture that, we hope, will show these hard-working farmers how much we appreciate their dedication. And how much we cherish having them and their greens in our lives.

I will be first in line to taste that zesty arugula. Here is an easy, seasonal recipe fitting of the occasion.

Wilted Arugula and Pear Salad serves 2

4 large handfuls of arugula (about 12 ounces) 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar 1 barely ripe pear 3 ounces of soft blue cheese Salt and pepper

Heat a large skillet over medium heat with the olive oil. Lightly saute the arugula until just wilted. Toss with the vinegar. Arrange on two plates. Slice the pear thinly and lay over the arugula, then crumble the cheese over and season with salt and pepper.

In other news, Lasagna Preziosa is away for the next two weeks. The knife sharpener is at the market tomorrow. And  MILTON is rocking the music tent tomorrow. Our APPLE PIE CONTEST is slated for October 22nd. This would be a good year to get over your fear of crust, to rise and bake a pie!