Saturday, June 12, 2010

Back To The Market

It's been a while since I posted any market pix, but when Jason the photographer was here, he decided it'd be fun to shoot me shopping at the market, so we went down there and he got not only pictures of me, but of lots of the market activity. Along the way, we attracted a lot of attention, since a guy with a huge tripod does that, and, of course, as a foodie himself, Jason wasn't immune to buying a bit for himself. Among those we talked to was the coffee-roaster, who turns out to be an American living in Montpellier (he looks ex-military), and someone whom I'm going to have to get to know. He usually sets up next to the Tomaologue, and I asked him when he was going to return to the market, because it's been a while since I'd had a good tomato. He told me that he's currently just selling plants out at his farm, and won't be at the market until the end of June. Can't wait.

But Tuesday's a fairly light day, and I wound up with some of the props, but nothing spectacular. Today, I went back to get a couple of things I needed, and in the middle of the market, my nose cleared and my taste returned. It was fantastic walking around smelling the stands which were rotisserie-ing chicken, selling paella, and cooking other stuff. I could also smell cherries -- which are coming into season now -- and knew that now I could shop for the tiny melons which I noted were even more numerous than they'd been on Tuesday. Sad to say, none of them were particularly ready. Actually, that's not true: I found a couple that were, took note of the stands, and returned to realize that the good melons had been bought and the green ones were still there. I also know there's an art to buying a not-quite-ripe melon and letting it ripen on the counter for a couple of days, but I'm not yet sure how that works. 

There'll be time for that: I still remember last year when an old guy solemnly accepted my €1.50 for a large melon, then stuffed two smaller ones into the bag. I was on a pretty tight budget, so a €3.50 mini-melon wasn't really easy to justify buying, and so I passed. What's here is some red Batavia lettuce, which makes a nice Caesar salad, because it has hard ribs packed with water; below that are some cherries, which I can say taste real good, the tiny strawberries, which'll be a pain in the butt to get onto the cereal, but well worth it; some green peas (which may be fading out soon; they seem to have a short season); some eggs, not from my regular egg guy, who's only there on Tuesday, but from some ladies who sell goat cheese and have the second-best eggs at the market, and some miscellaneous asparagus, ungraded and, thus, cheap. 

I also noticed some odd greens. There's a hippie-looking farmer with some missing teeth, who sells organic produce, usually at pretty premium prices, but it's good stuff, and he had a stack of something labelled laitue celtuce, a thick stalk with some leaves erupting from its top. I have no idea what this is, and have never seen it before. Then there's a couple who specialize in very expensive organic stuff (from whom I bought the hot green chiles last year), who had bunches of something labelled amaranth épinard. I'd always thought of amaranth as a grain, having seen it in health food stores, but according to the Oxford Companion to Food, it's a huge family of plants, some of which do indeed produce grain, but many of which are prized for their leaves, including Chinese spinach and callalloo, which I've had in Jamaica. No telling which this one is, but I guess it doesn't matter in a recipe. Maybe I'll look in some of my Chinese books and see if something inspires me. (Then, of course, it'll have disappeared from this stand). 

So, I guess, begins the marketing year. And about time: I'm hungry -- and determined to have the operation to restore my taste and smell permanently as soon as I can raise the cash! 

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