More on my hometown: Watercress
When I was growing up, we used to go up to New Market for watercress in the spring. At the time, New Market, Alabama, was known as the “Watercress Capital of the World” . That’s because watercress needs fresh water flowing over limestone to thrive, and that pretty much describes the landscape of north Madison County.
Watercress sandwiches were a specialty of my mother’s (along with the best, the definitive cucumber sandwiches!). Watercress in salads is one of my favorite things. And watercress soup, oh my….
According to the Encyclopedia of Alabama, “although never a major cash crop, watercress was an important commodity in Alabama during the first half of the twentieth century. The watercress industry was centered in Madison County, then known primarily for its textiles and cotton, but at the height of production, the area also was known as the “Watercress Capital of the World.” From the early twentieth century through the 1960s, more than 2 million bunches of watercress were grown and harvested in the area, more than produced by any other source in the United States. Today, watercress production continues in Madison County, but on a much-reduced scale. “
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