One of the great things about living where we do, is the access to good produce. The Mediterranean climate allows for almost anything to be grown, and more and more I’m trying to buy locally from people I get to know at the local village markets.
The Olonzac market, one of the biggest in our area, is held every Tuesday morning until about 1pm. You can find almost anything: fruit, vegies, pastries, breads, meats, fish, flowers, fresh coffee, cheeses, olives, local honey, wine, ready-made asian dishes from the guy with his own personal dvd collection on loop in his van (Lilas’ favourite)… those hard to find ingredients for ‘exotic’ cuisine such as lemongrass, coriander and chilies and then there’s your zippers, hats, bras, oversized undies, slippers, kitchen utensils, Indian dresses, incense, second-hand books, army surplus clothing, jewellery… it’s endless.
This market is growing in size each year and in full Summer has traffic jams of people, carts and pushers down the bottleneck streets – you should try pushing a pusher through this mass…
There’s Pierre with his bread. You can spot him from a mile off, with his old van and black wool beret. He’s like a character from a film – and his organic bread is of the old, sourdough rustic style. He takes his time, nearly always a big smile on his face and an open pot of honey on his table to spread on his breakfast ‘pain’. And there’s always his thermos of hot coffee and tin mug ready for dipping. Pierre’s bread is the sort that you can keep for a week – not at all your light, airy baguette, but a full, wholesome loaf that is just divine toasted with butter and Vegemite.
Just up from Pierre is Laetitia, the young girl who a lot of the year has only her free-range eggs to sell. She has a tiny stand but always many people jostling around her. Throughout the year she sells apples, onions, potatoes, and in full summer has mountains of cheap tomatoes, nectarines, grapes, peaches and a queue leading back for miles. You have to be quick – her tomatoes can sell out by 9.30am.
Towards the roundabout on your left are the people selling THAT saucisson (salami)… ‘Mont Charvin’. The one that costs an arm and a leg, full of beautiful chunks of bright green pistachios. It’s a small investment buying even just one of their products, but once you’ve tasted the difference, you can’t buy supermarket salami again. In general I buy a lot less saucisson now, but boy do we enjoy the ’50 centimes slices’ when they’re around. By chance, I got to meet Jacques, the maker of this wonderful product the other day. I was thrilled to be able to tell him how much we loved his ‘salted meats’ and hear his story of how he and his brother-in-law, once butchers in Paris, settled down south and built a company from scratch offering a range of products made in the Savoie region of France, using no additives or preservatives.
But before I stop by the saucisson stand, I head quickly for Valerie’s before she runs out of vegetables…
(to be continued, part 2)