Ahh one of the happiest things for my eyes to behold are rows of freshly picked, brightly colored, seasonal vegetables and fruits, piles of homemade cured meats, freshly butchered meats and tempting collections of cheeses (oozing rich bries, herb crusted chevres etc.), as well as gorgeous spreads of freshly caught fish and shell fish. These markets made me imagine how awesome it would be to just wake up, stop by the market—pick the freshest best (great quality–indeed the French are discerning with their produce) ingredients for a yummie dinner. In fact these markets have inspired us to make an effort to get to our local farmer’s markets (see, one of the great things about traveling–inspiring us to appreciate or seek out new things at home).
Aix en Provence, France
We went to the Tuesday (several large markets) market in Aix en Provence which goes from about 9:00am to 1:30pm. Fwet and I gathered a few things to make a little picnic on a bench on the main people-watching and tree-lined street, Cours Mirabeau. We bought the staple freshly baked French bread (people really do just carry around a loaf of bread!–I would say…it would be the U.S. equivalent to seeing people with Starbucks cups.) We also bought marinated baby octopus..or rather squid…in herbs, baby pickled onions, and artichokes and the most beautiful large vibrant red tomato (man….sadly, most tomatoes available to us here in the states are pitiful watery things compared to the distinctly flavorful tomatoes over there).
On a side note, this would be a super easy and most importantly heh, economical method of eating on the cheap (too bad we spent so much on dinner, this wouldn’t have helped). Because just spending say, about 10 bucks you can happily feed two with the nice selection of French goodies from the market.
It was kind of funny though because yes, embracing our asian-ness, we had cameras out and were snapping photos of everything such that one bewildered and humorous French lady inquired upon us, “But why are we taking photos of the fish? Have we not ever seen fish before?” To which I replied…indeed we have seen them before but…just not in such a fashion…(I didn’t have the mastery of the French language to get into “well our fish are packaged in sterile saran-wrapped packages caught who knows when and shipped from who knows where). I suppose though, it might be similar to seeing someone taking photos at a Costco (since I think they might regard it as a marvel, being so huge and selling bulk stuff—compared to their small relatively tiny markets).
Antibes, France (Cotes de Azur/ French Riviera)
Towards the end of our trip, Fwet and I made it to the beautiful, quaint seaside town of Antibes. Now THEY had a nice market–it was every single day from about 8:00am to 1:30pm! And located right beside the Marche Provencal (I know I’m missing a few accent marks and special “c”) are gourmet dedicated specialty cheese stores and meat stores.
Here we saw our dear friend…Mr. Truffle. Hahah and you know while we were there we mis-read the sign as 80 Euros–but now just looking at the photo, we seemed to have missed the third digit–the first one—5; Hence…580 Euros for a nice fistful sized chunk-o-mushroom. The mushroom man allowed us to have a heavenly whiff of the perfumed earthy fungi. Sigh…