After eating lentils all week, I often lose track of what day of the week it is!
Not that you should not try the delicious aforementioned recipe. However, it very well could be just a side effect of freelancing; any day could be Saturday. But what always keeps me on track is the local market, every Thursday and Sunday morning. In Paris, there are several markets in every neighborhood, twice a week. And it takes a tremendous amount of effort and resources. Sanitation workers set up a row of metal frames and tarps are rolled out to commence the market. Everything is promptly cleaned up and hosed down without a trace of the bustling, haggling, crate-strewn bi-weekly tradition. The only trace is the fruit and veg seen in the still life above.
The tremendous joy of food shopping in France is unparalleled in the States. Although there are supermarkets and aptly titled ‘hypermarches’ to make a weekly grocery run, just looking at the streets of Paris will give you a clue of the sensibilities of shoppers. On my short walk to the Metro from chez moi, there is a boucher, a fish shop, four boulangeries, a cheese shop, two Kosher sushi places, four sandwich shops, a honey boutique, and a handful of grocery stores. I cannot tell if the French are just completely obsessed with food or they just value the craft of their neighborhood artisans. To faire le course, the mundane task of food shopping, can take several stops. Although it would be more efficient to stock up (American-style) at the grocery just once a week, our fridge is half the size of those which can accommodate a proper trip to Kroger. This is precisely why I love the market; twice a week, I can stock up on the freshest products that I need in just one place. Take a look at these quick tips.
1. If you are visiting Paris, click here (http://marche.equipement.paris.fr/tousleshoraires) to find a market near you. Spring is just around the corner. And there is no better way to assemble a fabulous picnic.
2. Shop around. There is something for everybody and a booth for everything: bouchers, chicken specialists, fish mongers, Greek specialties, eggs, cheese. Prices and quality vary with each vendor. In general, the deeper into the market, the less expensive. Often times, prices are cheaper than the grocery stores and the quality is superior
3. If PRODUCTEUR is advertised in a stall, the fruit and vegetables are coming directly from the source. Although the produce may not be as impeccable-looking as neighboring booths, its freshness is top.
4. Say hello to your vendors. I have been going to the same bargain booth for years now. And the venders recognize my loyalty. They call me princess and give me free avocados. And they don’t give me a hard time when I beg them not to use plastic bags. Hypermarche be damned!
Although the farmers market trend is going strong in the States, the bi-weekly market is a simple pleasure, deeply engrained into everyday life. So you can have your still life and eat it, too.