Mary and Roy Patout find their slow-food niche.
Photos by Molly Richard
Farmers' markets are platforms for small business owners to share their wares and sell unique, artisanal, hand-made products. They are venues in which a small business can rapidly build a loyal client base and become a fixture in a community. Mary Mary Markets, which sets up for business at the Lafayette Farmers & Artisans Market at the Horse Farm every Saturday, is an example of a one-of-a-kind local foods business with a devout following. Mary Patout, owner/grower/creator at Mary Mary Markets, and her husband, Roy, are at the market every Saturday from 8 a.m.-noon.
"I love the market at the Horse Farm, but Roy really loves it," says Patout. "Such hopes we have for the development of that place and the people who work it and shop there. For us, it's more than a job; it has become a place of being, gathering and offering. It is such a pleasure to provide good nutrition however we can whether by food or friendship."
Mary Mary Markets launched in March of 2010 as a landscaping, herb supplier and floristry business. After an outpouring of support from friends and family, Patout expanded the business to providing locally grown produce, herbs and artisanal products to restaurants and patrons at the Horse Farm market. Bread & Circus Provisions, Village Café, Charley G's, Social Southern Table & Bar, The French Press, Café Vermilionville, Brick & Spoon and Skeleton Krewe use Patout's offerings in their dishes. Mary Mary Markets also donates her locally made goods for use at special fundraising dinners like Runaway Dish and Pig & Plough suppers.
"We use Mary Mary Markets pea, daikon and onion sprouts [at the restaurant] every day," says Jeremy Conner, executive chef of Village Café. "[Patout's] mustard is simply outstanding. Her tofu, dressings, etc. are also ridiculously good. Her husband Roy also makes killer rubs for various kinds of meat. He makes a rub for us that we use for pork butts for pulled pork that really makes it unique. It has hints of coffee and cocoa, but just enough for your tongue to tell you that there's something a little different about it."
In addition to sprouts, mustards containing local beer or Japanese sake, tofu, dressings and rubs, Mary Mary Markets also offers a sprouted and pickled mung bean salad, miso soup and more. Patout cooks up meals weekly at the farmers' market using other local products like Bread & Circus Provisions' belly bacon. The meals provide visitors with ideas of not only how to utilize the greens and sprouts that Mary Mary Markets offers, but also how to incorporate other local food leaders' products. Patout embraces the slow foods movement idea of connectivity and sustainability in her products and in her practices.
"Our little garden, really, is located off of LA 31 just at the parish line of St. Martin and Iberia," says Patout. "It's very small. My idea is to produce as much as I can out of a small space, hence my slogan, Sansho.' It means small, yet highly effective."
Tyler F. Thigpen is a wetland ecologist, past president of Acadiana Food Circle (www.AcadianaFoodCircle.org) and co-coordinator of Pig & Plough Suppers, a slow foods dinner series celebrating our Louisiana foodways by promoting chef collaborations that feature foods grown and raised in South Louisiana.