Aside from a few specialty shops and farmers markets, the ritual of procuring ones food in America consists of one all-encompassing trip to your local supermarket. No frills, no fuss, you know what you’re getting before you even set off the automatic doors. Fill the cart up to the brim, scan it, bag it, done. For most, grocery shopping is a forgettable, perhaps even forced task. Now this is where I go into why shopping for your groceries in France is so much better than America, yes you all know where I’m going. Of course, France has its own grocery stores filled with all the necessities, as well as the obligatory fluorescent lights. However this is only a small piece of the proverbial puzzle. Not to be outdone are the outdoor markets, where vendors from all over set up shop on Saturdays in the median of a busy street. You won’t find toiletries, and laundry detergent here. No this market is dedicated to all things edible. From prepared foods, raw ingredients, as well as street food vendors cooking right there on the sidewalk, this market had, literally, anything you could ask for. We visited in the late morning, and the market was abuzz with activity. Older women were rummaging through vast seas of greens and root vegetables. Chefs from some of the surrounding restaurants were eying the fresh whole rabbit, duck filet, and the freshly caught fish.
One could spend all day at the mushroom stand, piled high with more mushroom species than you could shake a shitake at (we did come away with a nice bundle of fresh çepes or porcini for a meal later on). The thing that amazed me was the just how fresh everything had to be. I mean we were in the middle of a city street, literally feet from traffic on either side of the narrow market, there were no refrigerated storage rooms to bring all the perishables to when the day was over. Everything was as fresh as one can possibly get without harvesting the veggies, or butchering the meat yourself. It all had the most unbelievable color to it, almost unreal. Speaking of unreal, take a look below. This man was selling poulet roti and pommes de terre (rotisserie chicken and potatoes), simple enough right?. The genius takes place at the bottom of the cooking unit. See that pool of dark golden liquid? That’s the drippings from the chicken, the flavors of which are then infused into the potatoes as they bathe comfortably in the jus. My god if that isn’t perfection I don’t know what is. That man should be given a medal of some sort. The chicken was just so succulent, with crispy skin, and moist meat. And those potatoes…never have I eaten a potato with that kind of flavor, creamy, savory, meaty, just fantastic.
Accompanying all of this was a wide array of homemade patés and confits, various offal, some wrapped in caul fat, escargots, and even fresh antipasto.
Of course there was also a creperie nestled between the sweet custard tarts and the enormous tuna filets. Naturally I had to sample a crepe from the market, and one in particular caught my eye, the Brocéliande (of course it was the most ridiculous, but why not?). It consisted of cheese, lardons, mushrooms, and a béchemel type creme. I don’t think I need to describe it, the ingredients speak for themselves.
So if anyone has found a cool farmers market, or has been to one and enjoyed some tasty treats, feel free to send us some shots or even an experience or two and we’ll throw ’em up here. The more we support our local markets, the more of them there will be, supply and demand folks. Until next time!