13 June 2006
Bringing France Home
When we are in France, we like to explore different food venues.
The open-air market tops the list. It is absolutely true — as many food blogs and guidebooks note — that you can smell fresh strawberries there. The Saturday market at Place Maubert in Paris is fragrant with berries in the springtime. There are other markets, of course, and they sell more than food.
The market in Cahors, held Saturdays and Wednesdays in the shadow of the 12th century cathedral of St. Etienne, shown above, is also a wonderful place to shop — and sniff.
We’ve shopped at artisan bakeries and those small fruit-markets that are so plentiful in Paris and found none of the snobbiness some people say they encounter.
The super-marchés are fun, too. Really. My husband commented that finding me was difficult, once we became separated.
“Back home, you are the only one wearing black, but here everyone seems to wear black,” he pointed out.
I lingered for hours over the cheese and yogurt selections. I was captivated by the many, many types of spreads for bread and bought a half dozen to experiment with. I toted home a heavy bag filled with jars of grainy country mustard, aioli, apricot jam and tapenade along with a package of white Camargue rice and some olives (which caused a bit of delay at the customs desk in Detroit.)
What better way to bring more French into my kitchen?
LeClerc has its own line of regional specialties, “Nos Régions Ont du Talent,” which were affordable and to my American palate, high quality.
Once home, I carefully meted out my stash of French products, opening the jam first. (The tapenade and tomato sauce were inhaled immediately.) I stretched the rice out for months. The mustard is still good and the aioli was not opened until Christmas. Both go into egg and tuna salad, deviled eggs and sandwich spreads.
It as, I found, an inexpensive and tasty way to bring more French home with me.
A Good Read: “The Markets of Provence: A Culinary Tour of Southern France,” by Ruthanne Long.