Tuesday, September 04, 2012
To Market, To Market, French Style - Annie West
Anyway...thinking about this story made me think of wonderful places I'd visited while researching, some of which are places Soraya visits too. I thought I'd share a few of them with you. Top of my list was rural France.
One of my favourite experiences was visiting French street markets. This one in Le Bugue in the Dordogne region was typical. Lots and lots of fresh produce as you can see. And what would a french market be without ropes of garlic? This stall was actually the smallest of the garlic stalls I found. Another find was a stall specialising in saffron, those tiny threads each picked by hand from low growing crocus flowers. I'm happy to use it in my cooking but so glad I don't have to harvest it! This was at the beginning of the market and I thought it was only the size of the small town square. Little did I know! It went on and on down a long street filled with everything from home made salamis to olives of every shape, variety and seasoning imaginable to...well, to most things edible.
What a terrific way to spend a few hours.
Another fascinating stall, especially after the colour and earthy scent of the stalls laden with fresh veges, was this one that specialised in teas. Not plain old black or green tea but unusual combinations and flavours of tea and tea to help with all sorts of ailments. Tea for health not just tea for enjoyment or to quench thirst and each type apparently hand blended. The stall was much, much larger than this. This was just a small shelf out the front with interesting herbs and dried leaves. They did a roaring trade too, mainly with locals I think. The scents from that stall were fascinating too, and I spent ages investigating what was on offer.
Surprisingly (as we were inland after all) one of the last stalls was a massive seafood tent. They had all sorts of fresh seafood on ice from fish to massive prawns, crabs and shellfish. In addition, and much more appealing to passing tourists, were the massive steaming trays of paella (or so it looked to me) and other hot seafood dishes. That's them at the front of the stall - the round containers.
I visit my local farmers' markets at home from time to time and enjoy getting food direct from the grower, knowing it's fresh and tasty. It's always a fun experience. But I have to say there was something especially enjoyable about sampling a French food market. The sun was shining and some of the items on sale were fascinatingly exotic, to me at least. Add to that the fact that purchases were made in French and I didn't have to stagger home with a week's supplies, just enough to supply a delicious outdoor picnic, and it was a wonderful carefree experience. One I can recommend to anyone!
Do you shop at markets? What are the local specialities you enjoy most? Or are there foods you'd love to find on sale that never appear where you shop?
Next month I'll indulge myself with more market pictures but no food this time. I hope you'll join me then too for a little more marketing in sunny France.
If you want to read more about DEFYING HER DESERT DUTY (out in the UK in October), you can visit my website for an excerpt or order it from The Book Depository now (free postage anywhere in the world and a discount if you order before October).
Oh, and if you're in Australia or New Zealand, my bestselling book THE GREEK TYCOON'S UNEXPECTED WIFE is out this month in a gorgeous anthology called 'GREEK AFFAIRS: TEMPTED BY THE TYCOON'.