My sister and I rose early at our Auberge, slipped into summer slacks and shirts, and made our way to our host's large table with its red and white checkered-cloth. Always cheerful, Camille was bustling around serving his robust coffee in cups without handles. The smell of toast and warm croissants filled the air, dotted with whiffs of his homemade strawberry-rhubarb jam. No one was in a hurry, this was no "drive-through."
Having been a baker most of his life, our host explained the complicated process of kneading butter into dough multiple times to create the flaky croissants. We were accustomed to popping the end result in the oven to warm. At his table we were learning a respect for food preparation we had only experienced as children on the farm with our stay-at-home mother. She loved to cook and bake like as much as he did.
Satisfied we'd "taken in" our French breakfast experience, we gathered our mesh bags and headed for the "market experience."
Vendors displayed their just picked or pulled, colorful, fragrant vegetables and herbs, fresh meats, cheeses and more. And to think, we could do it again tomorrow.
Smiling, pointing and "Merci" got us a soft cheese with walnuts, two Baguettes, a fresh tomato, two small cucumbers, a few radishes, some baby lettuce, a hard sausage, a bottle of cider and two peaches.
No table is complete without fresh flowers. We needed a large yellow sunflower like a hole in the head, but flowers feed the soul. In a perfect world, I would always have fresh flowers in my home.
I have red sandals with porcelain painted heels that feed my soul: Giuseppe Zanotti's. I call them my happy, happy, hyacinth for the soul, in case of fire, grab the shoes, shoes.
Our first French market feast, on the outside table at the Auberge, was the beginning of our love affair with French food. It is ongoing.
©2005 Red Convertible Travel Series