Monday, May 09, 2005

French Market Shopping

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, he 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 he did and it showed.

Satisfied that we'd "taken in " our French breakfast experience we gathered our mesh bags and headed for the "market experience."

No wonder people love food when fresh produce is in such abundance. The Market was a feast for the senses and dozens of people were enjoying it. The stacks of produce just pulled from the earth felt alive. They smelled of fresh soil and their own individual fragrance with an explosion of colors. We could buy a single item or a bag full. How sumptuous a meal would be, how nourishing. We wished we could shop daily for fresh at home, take the time to prepare it and sit down and enjoy it. Why are Americans in such a rush?

Vendors displayed their fresh meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables and more. What a shame we couldn't cook. All we needed was lunch. So many cheeses to choose from. We picked a soft cheese with walnuts. Baguettes with a crunchy outside sealed in the delicious flavor. How could I not love this bread? Fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, baby lettuce and a hard sausage would build a fine sandwich with a bottle of cider and blushing peaches.

Merci was the only French word we spoke, pointing worked. It was exciting to think we could be a part of this sensual experience today, and tomorrow do it all over again.

No table is complete without fresh flowers. We needed a large yellow sunflower like a hole in the head, but I could understand buying a flower rather than food. It feeds the soul. I have red sandals with porcelain painted heels that feed my soul: Giuseppe Zanotti's. I call them my red, happy, happy, hyacinth for the soul, in case of fire, grab the shoes, shoes.

Our first French market lunch on the outside table at the Auberge was the beginning of our love affair with French food.

copyright 2005 Red Convertible Travel Series

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Blogger junebee said...

Great post, very descriptive.

1:33 PM  
Blogger Tina said...

Nice read. I can almost smell the warm croissants

10:04 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

I love it, I love it, I love it!!!! Makes me want to head right back out to Monmarte in Paris and take it all in!

10:22 AM  
Blogger Melanie was here said...

My husband and I spent a week in the South of France, just outside of Avignon last May. The market was one of the best experiences ever. I would go back in a second! Croissants have not tasted as good since!

3:43 PM  
Anonymous claudia said...

I'm really craving a warm flaky croissant right now!

4:19 PM  

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