Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Market Report

Just to infuriate my American readers -- and the ones in Berlin, too -- I decided to lug my camera to the market at the Arceaux today. The Tuesday market isn't as crowded as the Saturday one, and it's a little friendlier-feeling, because there aren't so many of the city's entitled yuppies pushing their way around. More old ladies, joshing with the vendors, more ordinary people. And me.

I went back to see if I could find some of those gariguette strawberries I'd been seeing, especially after I'd bought a pannier of them in the Inno supermarket and been disappointed, but apparently their time is over. Instead, I got, um, another kind. There now seem to be four or five kinds on the market, some more spherical, some pointier, others between the two.

One thing I tend to do is to find a specialist farmer, someone who has nothing but one or two kinds of fruit or vegetables for sale, figuring they've been paying closer attention. (This could be superstition, for all I know). Anyway, a small pannier of strawberries from these folks will provide the topping to tomorrow's breakfast cereal:

Cherries, something I don't eat much, also seem to be coming in, and asparagus is getting cheaper. I didn't buy from these people this time, but I have in the past. Instead, I found a couple of farmers selling mostly asparagus who were almost wiped out, so I thought I'd make their packing easier. But this specialty farm here is 12 whole kilometers out of town, and I'm thinking I could take the tram out there:

The guys I bought the asparagus from also had a bunch of peas, another newcomer in the market this week, and they were priced to sell at €4/kilo, so tonight's dinner will be pasta with a cream sauce of peas and ham. The French make about a zillion kinds of ham, so it may take me a while to figure out which to use. As a big fan of peas, who used to lament not finding them in Berlin's markets except maybe once every couple of years, these guys here look great:

And finally, these odd things. They're zucchini, and no, I didn't buy any, but I keep wondering why someone would pay a slight premium for spherical zucchini. Do they taste different? Or are they easier to stuff? French butchers sell a minced-meat product called farce, often several different types of it, ready-made to stuff vegetables like peppers and zucchini. Anyone have any experience with these things?

I'll likely go back to the market on Saturday, but without the camera. That'll give me an idea what, if anything, to shoot next Tuesday. Anybody know when the asperges sauvages come in?


  1. I think the round courgettes are only useful for stuffing, as you suggested. They make a nice, colorful container for whatever you choose to put in them (in my case, a vegetarian mix). The cooking time is fairly short, which makes it a nice 'n easy meal.

  2. Les asperges sauvages, c'est en février-mars. Encore un peu en avril. J'ai du mal à les trouver... Maintenant c'est trop tard pour cette année.

    Les courgettes rondes, c'est bien joli quand on veut les farcir.

    J'écris en français exprès (on purpose) :-))

  3. I'll add that you also infuriate those french people who decided to move to Berlin, where the Belitzer spargle is 7 to 8 € a kilo!

    On the topic of the asperges sauvages, my parents who live in Touraine allready had some last month, so for you it means going up north, again :-)

  4. The Ronde de Nice courgettes do taste a little different, I think and yes, they take a regional farci very well. I remember Julia Child wrote up a very workable version of a liver-based recipe.

    Enjoying some Texas strawberries right now! Small and fragrant (about the only fruit in Austin Central Market to have any scent at all). The Californian ones are, of course you'll remember, completely useless.

    I'm storing up my envy for the season of tiny melons.

  5. Sorry, Didier and Marie, but I have two memories of encountering asperges sauvages, and both were from a little further into the summer than we are now. I didn't know what it was until a friend in Lausanne told me, and that visit was right after the Paris Air Show, which I remember from trying to find a hotel there. This year's show is June 15-21. That's also approximately when I saw some on a menu in Strasbourg paired with some awful kind of veal innards I couldn't bring myself to try.

    Of course, maybe you folks mean another vegetable entirely.

    And the real jealousy will come when the tomatoes start to appear. Just you wait...

  6. Ed, asperges sauvages in the South grow at the time of the year I told you, unfortunately :-))


  7. Okay, the things I saw don't look anything at all like what's in that link. Now I'm *really* confused.

  8. Asperges sauvages are much thinner than the other ones. Maybe you were shown something quite different. :-))

    I will show you next spring.

    It's raining again. I have just heard that June and July might be "hotter" than usual.

    Next weekend will be nice (21-22-23): Comédie du Livre. It's my favorite weekend of the year in Montpellier. Spain is the special guest this year. Next year it will be the USA.


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