Paris neighbourhoods, or arrondissements (the city core), present open air markets as exquisitely as Monet gardened and painted. Well, not quite, but they are art installations unto themselves. Most neighbourhoods in the city have 2 markets/week, so you will be able to find them easy enough when visiting. Here you will be able to slowly savour…decadent fresh cheese of all shapes, colors, textures and odors…and gorgeous savory pastries while you stroll…halte, si vulgar!! Other than nibbling on the end of a freshly purchased baguette on the way home, the French rarely stroll and eat. Tsk! Take it home to savor, how rude…As a foreigner you will get the occasional eye roll, tongue tsk and phaa so it’s a good idea to get used to it. Don’t take it personally it is ingrained in the culture. It does become humorous after a short while, and when you’ve had a tough day, you feel zero guilt when you do it right back. No one seems to care and some Parisians find it funnier than we do. As local french comedian Olivier Giraud says, and I am paraphrasing, “We here in Paris, have shitty little apartments, travel on the shit metro with the tourists, go to our shit jobs, go home, sleep and do the same shitty thing again the next day, so no wonder we are miserable!” This is the basis for the comedian’s long running hilarious one man show “How to become Parisian in one hour,” a must see if you come to Paris. Not to worry, it is performed in English and locals abound, so don’t let anyone fool you, they do speak english! Point taken, it is much harder to make a living in a fast paced, large city for everyone, everywhere. Persnickety is often an act for some, and a reality for many tired hard working Parisians. Just relax and be proud to be you, appreciate the French sharing with us their fabulous culture and you’ll have a great time.
Now back to the markets, they have a plethora of beautiful fresh fruit and vegetables. There may be a few you won’t know the name of or what to do with them if you bought them. How entirely fun and refreshing.
The canard or duck, come whole and in pieces with or without the fat layer which is what keeps it so moist and tasty while slowly cooking or pan frying. You will naturally find whole chickens at the meat counter, but what I wasn’t used to seeing was that they come with the odd feather attached which the boucher kindly burns off with a torch. You’ll notice a nice yellow tinge to the skin vs of the pristine white color we often get in the stores back home. The taste is magnifique slow roasted. Please look away if you are vegan or vegetarian as the following pic may insult. When I say whole chickens I mean it.
After seeing their love and respect for the local french farmers and vineyards and their age old processes it should be natural for us to support and attend our local farmers markets consistently in Canada. We are not Europe I get that, but a more supportive approach to our local farmers could be more mainstream, no? Personally, our family of two (the kids have flown the coop) have only bought from a CSA (community sustainable agriculture) farm for two seasons now and I’m not sure why. They either deliver or you pick up your weekly fruit/veggie box from a local farm or market. It’s a treat to see what’s new. If you have an excess of lettuce, we’ve learned to put it in our shakes and the the unknown greens go into soups etc., or get frozen. What a great way to be healthier and support our local économies.
The way the French think and maneuver around eating is a beautiful art as well. Sometimes their small talk is about what they had for lunch or dinner last night. What region it came from, how it was prepared, how it tasted and made them feel. Hmm delicious any way you look at it so thank you farming communities everywhere, we may not say it as well as the french but we appreciate you immensely.
Jusqu’à la prochaine fois. Until next time…