Saturday, August 15, 2009

Midsummer Market and the Assumption

Okay, here's today's haul:

What's most impressive about this is that, including the two bottles of wine at €3.20 each, this is within a euro of my €10 limit. (The tomato in the green bag is from Tuesday and is part of the eggplant pizza I'm making tonight: only the stuff on the board and the wine is from today).

The thing is, there's such abundance now that they're practically giving stuff away. Or maybe it's because some of the vendors are starting to recognize me: they're there twice a week, and so am I. The melons, for instance, are from the mute farmer with the ancient balance scale. They were two for €1, so I picked one fairly ripe one and one non-ripe one, because I've noticed how they ripen at home, perfuming the kitchen ridiculously. He smiled, whipped out his knife, picked up a cut melon and cut me off a slice. I ate it and, unsurprisingly, it was great. So I reached in my pocket for a euro to pay him, and he came up with another melon. "Hey," I said, "I live alone. I can't eat this many." He made a mocking noise, took the euro and smiled. Fortunately, I ran into some folks I know a little later and they got the orphan melon.

Below them, there are onions and potatoes, not exactly seasonal vegetables, but the product of a sudden thought: why do I buy big bags of class 2 factory-farmed onions and potatoes at the Monoprix Inno when these people at the market are perfectly happy to sell you four or five at a time, direct from their farms' storage bins? Duh. And that way, neither of them will sprout because they've hung around too long.

Moving up from the center, to the right of the eggplant, there are a few flat peaches, or "flying saucer" peaches, as I've heard them called. Prof Dr Dr has been recommending I look out for them, and there they are. The one I had was extremely hard, not very ripe yet, but had the promise of extraordinary flavor, so I can let these guys ripen for a while. (Which is good: I can only eat so much fruit at a time). To their right, a few orange apricots. The one I had was mealy and almost without flavor. Maybe this isn't the right season, or maybe this isn't the place to get apricots. Anyway, not much good. The small green-and-red orbs below the peaches are Reine Claude plums, and they're all over the place (as are figs, which I can't quite figure out what to do with, but people are buying them by the multiple flat). They're juicy and sweet, but not much flavor beyond that. Maybe some of these fruits are better when cooked with, and I should look into that. Finally, a couple of tomatoes.

The wines are an experiment. The one on the left, Domaine de Malpuits, is from the same guy whose wine vinegar I've been enjoying these past few weeks. The one on the right, Domaine de l'Arnede, is a rosé made from Merlot, a grape you just don't see around here much. Both are classified as Vin de Pays, which means they don't use the traditional blend of grapes which allows them to be called Cotes de Languedoc, nothing more. I've seen bottles classified like that at exalted prices at the Wine Museum. What I'm expecting here is drinkability, nothing more. But the Merlot may still surprise me.

Anyway, eggplant pizza tonight, who knows what tomorrow. Because I made another mistake: I assumed stuff would be open today. And it's not.

It's the Feast of the Assumption. When I lived in Berlin, I thought I'd seen just about every weird Christian holiday celebrated as a national day off, but I was wrong: they're Protestants up there, and across Catholic Europe, from Spain to Austria (and, I assume, Bavaria and southern Germany), the convenient date the Virgin chose for her ascent to Heaven is a mid-summer day to slack. Of which I approve, but wish I'd had some foreknowledge because I'm out of coffee. The Monoprix on the corner is open, and I'm going to hike over to the Inno in hopes that Coffea, the place I get my good coffee beans (well, okay coffee beans; I still miss the Malongo boutique in the Berlin Galleries Lafayette, from which I could make my own mixture), is open.

But I assume nothing.


  1. I'd marvel at your motivation, but after all, it is later today over there. Still, a very impressive spread and photograph. :p

  2. "Assume nothing" - probably the best survival tip for living in France, I reckon.

    I was down in the market today too - the only reason I broke my budget little was because I found this fantastic cheese - a tommette aux 3 laits from the Perails du Chevre ladies. I couldn't leave without a slice.

  3. Totally agree about "assume nothing," especially that, say, the trains will be running.

    I'm violently allergic to goat cheese, apparently, but I do wonder why nearly all the sales persons are utter babes in their mid-40s. Is that what eating goat cheese does to women? I'm all for it!

  4. Have your ears been burning today ?


  5. Oh poo - I was going to recommend eating figs with goat cheese. Last time I was in the Lot around September, figs were falling on my head and into my lap; you're further south I know, but maybe you won't have to buy any soon - just hang around on a bench near a garden and you're set. The same tactic might also garner babes in their mid-40's. Bon chance my man.
    Back to figs. An English food writer you might like, Nigel Slater, is good at food-pairing; a couple of his fig ideas are tasty: with parma ham, chopped walnuts and thick yoghurt (I experiment with the ham depending on location and purse) and purple figs with warm honey. This last one is messy but worth it.

  6. Heavens. I did not intend to imply you would consider purchasing or indeed need to purchase a goat cheese lady.
    "I'll get my coat".


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