Ed Ward's Blog Leaves Europe After 20 Years and Returns To The U.S., Another Foreign Country. Currently, This Blog Is In Transition.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Market Report, End of May
I know I promised to post weekly market reports here, but there are a few reasons I haven't, and probably won't. The first is that I've discovered that I don't go every Tuesday or Saturday. This is either due to laziness, work that has to be done, or, increasingly, the realization that I have enough. Thus, although I missed Tuesday this week, I still have two heads of lettuce and a pound of green peas left over from last Saturday -- not that that kept me from going today.
Nice weather has something to do with this: if you really don't have anything urgent pressing on you, a stroll through the historic center of Montpellier follwed by a ramble down the row of market stalls on a nice warm day is a fine idea.
So here's what I got today.
First, the eggs. Lots of the merchants sell eggs as a sideline. Some, like the ones who also sell chickens, make perfect sense. But there are others selling cheese or vegetables, who also sell them. I guess everyone has chickens, and so putting the morning's surplus on the truck with the rest of the stuff just makes sense. At any rate, the eggs are fresher and larger than what I've gotten at the supermarket, and only ten cents or so more expensive. And when I scramble them, they turn a blinding yellow. They also, no matter what I do with them, have an incredibly rich flavor. They're just a bit eggier than any eggs I've had in the past, like someone turned the volume up a notch or two.
Just below them is a pannier of strawberries. I naively said, the first time I did one of these posts, that I liked the stalls where there was only one thing available because that meant the people knew what they were doing. Someone upbraided me, though, saying that a farm doing monoculture wasn't going to produce very good stuff because it'd be depleting its soil. These strawberries come from the folks I've been buying them from all along, and they're small, intense, and pretty ugly. Given that these people have good prices and are friendly -- and they're located a whopping 12km from the center of town -- I'm happy to see that now they have tons of cherries at the stand and the melons are starting to show up. Now, I'm not going to buy a melon until I can smell one from walking by, so that may be a week or two off, and it may not be from these people, but I'm glad to see that they're growing a number of crops, and I'm beginning to suspect that they may be adding tomatoes soon. Oh, just wait for the tomato pictures! But...not yet.
Then, there's a bunch of skinny asparagus. I bought this from an old guy who just had a lot of bunches like this one in a bag. He was crouching next to a cheese stand, and I suspect he hitched a ride with them or maybe even took the bus in. He took my two-euro coin and tossed it into a pile of them. His was the very best asparagus I saw today, but I suspect it's among the last I'll be seeing. In fact, the asparagus and the strawberries will, I bet, be going away in the next week or two. I'll do what I can to help.
Finally, components of tomorrow morning's breakfast. There's a hunk of cheese that is supposedly cantal, although it wasn't labelled as such and didn't taste exactly like it. It did, however, taste good, although the woman sawed off far more than I wanted. (What you see is half of what I was offered first). And, next to that, not very well photographed, is a hunk of saucisson sec which I thought was covered with herbes de Provence but is, instead, covered with coarsely-ground black pepper. No matter: it gets cubed (well, some of it does) and tossed in with some browned cubes of potato tomorrow, then scrambled eggs go in and a few seconds later some of that cantal or whatever it is.
Last Saturday I picked up, from another farmer whose stuff I really like, a nice bag of green beans, which he was happily talking to an old lady about. "First green beans of the season! More to come." I can wait; they were fibrous even after vigorous steaming. I know we're about to see a lot more of them, but there weren't many today, and I'm thinking this guy's early variety is just plain tough. And finally, there were more fava beans than I've ever seen. What on earth does one do with them, I wonder? Because they're cheap enough, and they look pretty good.
Off to do more research and figure out how to use up those green peas from last week...