Sunday, August 26, 2007

Market Day

So I had this post all ready to go this morning and I looked at Ken's blog and noticed he published photos pretty similar to the ones I had prepared. I think we're not getting out much and we end up taking pictures of the same stuff. So I've made some changes.

The clouds began to part and clear on Friday.

I did get out yesterday, which is unusual for me. I got all gussied up, well not really. I took a shower but didn't shave, put on a shirt with a collar, and put a belt on with my jeans. Then I started up the old Peugeot and drove into town. About two kilometers from here.

Saturday is, of course, market day in St.-Aignan and I decided that I should get myself out of the house for a change. Ken usually does the shopping while I stay home with Callie. I parked in the little lot alongside the river and climbed a set of stairs up toward the château, then walked down past the church into the town square. On the way I passed two tourists walking their bikes toward the market stalls. They were speaking English, but I couldn't hear well enough to know if they were American or British.

A rose hip.

First stop : the fish folks. Usually the line at the fish stand is at least ten people deep and it takes a while to get waited on, even with four people serving customers. But yesterday I was early and there was only one person in front of me. I bought un litre de moules (mussels) which turns out to be about a kilo, for just over four euros.

Next stop : the mushroom lady. Our neighbor told us that the mushroom lady lives not far from us and grows her mushrooms in the cave on her property. She has beautiful champignons de Paris (button mushrooms) both white and brown and sometimes another variety or two. Her stand is right in the middle of the market square. Five hundred grams (about a pound) of the white ones for 1.70€ and I was on my way.

After that, I headed over to see the gay produce guys. I don't know why we call them the gay produce guys. For one thing, they're mostly women. And the couple of guys that do work there are probably not gay. But they're cute. I digress. I got two heads of lettuce, one feuille de chêne rouge and one batavia. Ninety euro cents each.

The oak trees in the woods around the vineyard are full of acorns now.

Since that's all I came for, I made a loop around the market to head back to the car. On the way I passed Monsieur Bouland, the guy who's goat farm is up the road behind our house, and his stand filled with amazing goat cheeses. He and his wife run the local ferme-auberge, a kind of hotel-and-restaurant-on-the-farm. But goat cheese was not on the menu for the weekend, so I kept going.

Then I passed the charcutière, the one we call Madame Doudouille, and overheard her telling a customer that she will have been working the market for thirty years next month. Wow. She's pretty young looking, but she does have a daughter in college. She can't be more than fifty.

I rounded the corner and saw a stand with beautiful radis roses (red and white radishes), but I kept moving until I saw even more beautiful radis at another produce vendor. There are at least five produce vendors at the market, not including the small one- or two-item stands (like the mushroom lady or the apple guy). I had to stop. I love radishes with salt and buttered bread. There were about five people in line, so I just soaked up the atmosphere while I waited.

Next to the produce stand is a volailler, a poultry vendor, one of two in the weekly market. The man behind the counter was chopping up a rabbit with a cleaver and I watched as each blow neatly cut the rabbit into a serving-size portion, ready for stewing. He asked the lady he was waiting on if she liked the heads, to which she replied a resounding "Oui !" He said, "Well, I just asked because some people don't like them," and he threw two or three heads into the pack with the rabbit pieces. That lady had a big smile on her face.

After she paid he set to loading chickens up on a spit. He sprinkled them with some spice mixture that he took from an old Bonne Maman jelly jar, then put the spit on the roaster with the other chickens, many of them already browning and dripping juices down onto the little peeled potatoes in the tray at the bottom.

The woman behind me in line started coughing and I was doing my best to look away and not breathe in her germs. All of a sudden she proclaimed, to nobody in particular, that she had eaten a madeleine for breakfast and it was too sweet. Ça ne passe pas, she said. The produce vendor then chimed in, "Il vous faut un p'tit coup de rosé," all you need is a little glass of rosé, that'll fix you up. She protested, not at this hour of the day. He smiled back, "I said a little one, that would be ok. A big one would be la gourmandise !" Smiles all around.

The Queen Anne's Lace continues to bloom in the local fields. This bud is just starting to open.

Then I saw our friend Jean-Luc walk by in the distance, but he didn't see me. He and his girlfriend are gutting and renovating an old bake shop on the market square, turning it into an office and an apartment. He was with one of the other guys working on the site and I guessed they were on their way to the nearby café for a break.

I got my radishes, a bunch for one euro twenty, and headed on back to the car. It wasn't even 10:00 am when I got home.

So by now you've noticed that the pictures don't go with the story. I didn't take my camera to the market.


  1. i'm almost afraid to ask...but what do they do with the rabbit heads?

    i wish we had a farmer's market around here. they sound marvelous. so much of our produce is imported...who knows...maybe our stuff comes from your area!

  2. in the North, they say you can only eat mussles in a month with "r" so you have to wait a couple days...

  3. cara, I think they use the heads for stocks and sauces.

    reb, mussels, too ? I thought that was just for oysters. Oops !


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