So many choices for dinner -- at farmers markets

RUN DOWN the list of Southern California farmers markets and you can see the geographic diversity. What you might not see is the diversity of the markets themselves. Whether the farmers journey among markets or come to only one, many tailor what they bring to the tastes of the region.

Add to that the stamp of day and time, the location (a park, a cordoned-off section of downtown, a parking lot near the ocean) and market size. Each market has a personality, and it often influences what's for dinner.

We stopped shoppers and asked them what they planned to make with their purchases.

Peggy Curry of Manhattan Beach was buying plump blueberries from Rey River Farm's stall for pancakes and also to put into a fresh fruit bowl. And for a salad, she decided on the spot -- with spinach and watercress she'd found at another stall, plus sheep's milk feta, candied pecans, a poppy seed vinaigrette.

Tuesday, Torrance Farmers Market

At Fresno farmer Vang Thao's stand, David Wu of Torrance was buying pretty, red Swiss chard and leafy dandelion greens. When asked what he planned for his purchases, Wu smiled. "Stir-fry them with garlic."

Tuesday, Torrance Farmers Market.

Cecelia Mongrain from Rancho Palos Verdes picked up cherimoyas from Rios Vista Ranch. Mongrain inspected the pale green fruit (imagine Buckminster Fuller's version of a Bartlett pear), then said, "I'll just slice them -- [and serve] with strawberries."

Tuesday, Torrance Farmers Market

Vegetable fried rice, Amie Norden of Culver City said when we asked what she and husband Phil were doing with their just-bought green onions and asparagus, radishes and celery. "At least that's the plan. Sometimes something will look really good and we'll just buy it; I can never remember what's in season."

Tuesday, Culver City Farmers Market

Michael and Mindy Gordon of Los Angeles stopped mid-stride in the middle of the packed street to show off bags brimming with spring vegetables. The Gordons were going to translate their portable garden into a salad of shaved fennel, roasted beets and fresh mint, all dressed with a vinaigrette.

Tuesday, Culver City Farmers Market

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