Vendors setting up
The market is already thriving at 8 a.m. as vendors and producers finish their set up and are already bragging about how their produce, seafood, cheese, is the best of the season. Because I’m a regular, many vendors and growers greet me as I approach. We engage in cheerful banter about the weather and how good or bad it is for their crops, about their vactaions, my recent trip to Georgia, even a recipe.
I’m eternally impressed at the way each vendor arranges her or his offerings to produce a flowing cornucopia of vibrant colors and textures, proof of the care that went into growing and choosing them. The butchers stand proud behind their displays of meats, sausages, and pâtés; some have chickens and rabbits twirling slowly on a rotisserie which send out mouth-watering aromas that draw customers by the dozens. Flower vendors bunch blossoms into gorgeous bouquets, olive oil producers offers samples, even the herring vendor gives little tastes.
Always a Smile
Nearby, the cheesemongers are constantly at work. It’s easy to underestimate the considerable strength and effort it takes to cut open wheels of cheese or perfectly slice buttery Roquefort with a wire, cut a Livarot in equal parts, or delicately scoop out Gorgonzola. It’s always done with a smile, and if you want to taste before you buy, the wedge you get counts as breakfast!
For newcomers, the fish stands can be intimidating, particularly if you’re not accustomed to having your food look back at you! But inhale and smell the brine and you know you’ve got the best, most fresh possible seafood at your disposal. And it’s seasonal, so if you see something you want get it, because it may be gone by the next week.
And this is the secret of the French market. You get the best and most fresh because everything flows according to the season. And although it’s obvious that everyone who sets up at the market works hard, there is a camaraderie among them, and each is proud of what they produce and sell so it seems effortless.
Let Me Show You a Paris Market
Some of my favorite moments are taking visitors on a tour of a Paris market. I love to give the insider’s look, introduce the vendors and their produce or wares, and gather the season’s tastes to enjoy. It makes for a wonderful morning. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
CONFIT OF PEPPERS
Until you get to Paris, here is a delicious condiment to make, using either these sweet, snaky peppers that a honey, smoky flavor. Here I use Doux des Landes variety; in the U.S. you can get seeds from Johnny’s Selected Seeds for Corno di Toro.
1/4 cup (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil
5 large red bell peppers, rinsed, seeds and pith removed, diced
Coarse sea salt, to taste
Flat leaf parsley or fresh basil leaves – for garnish
1. Place the oil and the peppers in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat and stir until the peppers are coated with the oil. Season with a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until the peppers begin to sizzle. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are very tender and almost melted, 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning. Serve immediately as an appetizer, with freshly toasted bread, or as a dip with freshly sliced vegetables.
About 1 cup ; 200g