15 Minutes With: Mark de la Vega

Meet one of the CSA’s newest members, Mark de la Vega. He joined us for the 2011 season after moving to Red Hook about a year ago. He crossed the Ditch from Carroll Gardens into Red Hook so there would be more space for his family when Holly was born.

Now she’s here, and when Mark’s not hanging out with her at Fort Tilden (pictured left), he’s in his wood shop designing custom modern furniture for his company, dlV Designs. “I have my whole life situated here,” he says.

And guys… don’t miss the best piece of advice he’s ever been given. It has to do with women.

What was the food culture in your house growing up?

My mom was a good cook and she learned a lot from her mother-in-law when we lived in Mexico. Also, my mom and stepdad had a gourmet club with their friends and we would eat with them so we did have more food experience than the neighbors that were having fish sticks.

My mom told us Wonder Bread gives you worms so we would eat the Roman Meal brand (whole wheat bread).  When we would go to lunch at our friends house they would give us a choice of bread and we would always tell their parents, “Wonder Bread gives you worms.” It didn’t take long until nobody in our hood ate Wonder bread anymore. Mom had forgotten she even said that, but when we told her years later she was pretty pleased with the results.

One food you won’t you eat?

I can’t even think of one, I was going to say pickled herring, but if I was hanging with some pickled herring fans they could convince me to have some.

Favorite vegetable?

I guess right now I really like kale.

Favorite food experience?

Eating raw shellfish from a cart on a dirt road in Mexico. I had shrimp agua chile in Cullican with my brother. I am always trying to relive that day.

Also these clams they call chocolates, shucked with lime and chile. I can spend half the day kicking it in those plastic chairs grabbin’ beers out of the cooler and watching the guy fill plate after plate.

Favorite appliance?

That’s easy — dishwasher

Most disastrous kitchen or garden experiment:

I got my arm slammed in a pizza oven once. Wasn’t that bad though.

Why are you involved in CSAs?

If you live in Red Hook, how can you not be? Farm fresh food tastes so much better then the stuff in the store. It supports the community in a way that does absolutely zero harm to anything (some vegetables do loose their life in the process); it’s not expensive; it’s convenient; and you don’t even have to think about it — you just pick it up and your stocked for the week. What’s not to love?

What’s the best lunch option near you?

I try to be equal opportunity to all the Red Hook spots. Sometimes I have to go get lacquer out in Sunset Park, so I take the guys to Tacos Ricos (51st between 5th and 6th avenues). That place truly is the best and it’s about $1.50/taco. Weekends it’s always Fort Defiance brunch and oysters.

What inspires you?

Really good work; I love work.

Your opinion: Does talking to plants help them grow?

Can’t hurt.

Do you sing to them?

No way.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

That’s tricky. Seems like I’m always getting good advice. I got some good advice about women once: “If you feel like you may want to spend a lot of time with a woman, you should hang out with her mother. If you get along with her mother, you are good to go.”

Tell us one thing about yourself that would surprise us.

I’d like to be one of those people with a set wardrobe, like a uniform they wear everyday. Einstein did it. Lots of famous people throughout history did it. A dude in my woodshop wears a tie-dye and shorts every day. I respect that. Someone told me that it was the height of elegance… Mine would be a boiler suit.


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