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Mirepoix 6 June 2016


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Our host John warned us not to try to find a parking place on Monday, Market Day. "It's a very busy scene," he advised. 

So we were excited to go to market ...and it far exceeded expectations, bigger (but not more crowded) than the market at Céret. Markets here have everything, from "bio" (certified organic) vegetables and fruits to plastic hair catchers to recycled clothes to farm implements. (I have taken a rough stab, below, at showing the variety.) Of course for us the raw foods are the most interesting, and our haul of treasures (at right) only contained a few durable goods: a garlic press (the first decent one we've seen, and we've been looking diligently. I guess the French don't press their garlic.) Three more of the beautiful thin-bladed knives made by a local artisan like the one I bought in Céret. Some lapsang souchong tea, beautiful flavored macaroons, kale (the first we have seen; apparently kale hasn't made it to France the way it has in California.) Tonight's artichoke and a week's supply (maybe) of lemons and garlic. Maybe two days worth of lettuce (rightly called "salade" here.) Some prunes and dried currants for our cooked wheat salads. Some delicious chorizo, a lovely Charentais melon, and tomatoes, both sun-dried and cheery-on-the-vine.

At our first stop, where we bought the bulk of the produce, we spent 9€50, about $11. At the Mendocino Market the same, if available, would have cost $25.


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<p>The market fills the streets,...

The market fills the streets, both pedestrianized and usually used by cars, for a total of, perhaps, 12 blocks, with certainly well over 100 stalls. Many of the vendors work several markets, and have elaborate set-ups which get erected before 9:00 when the market starts, and are gone by 14:00, an hour after the market officially ends.

It would be easy to live from the Mirepoix market if you could discipline yourself to shop for a week each Monday. The vivid market culture is the reason that supermarkets are not such a big thing in France ...and that seems a good thing to me.

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<p>A random sampling of the goods at Market this morning</p>

A random sampling of the goods at Market this morning

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I'm sure that there are two kinds of people, just like in the US: those who go to market, and those who do all their shopping at the megamart. We had to go there for some supplies on Friday, and we found ourselves trapped in a line with women with their shopping carts full of all the packaged goods one expects to see in the same carts at Safeway. 

At market this morning, there was a wonderful agglomeration of folks: elders, people speaking only English, younglings, women with small herds of children, couples with dogs on leashes tripping other people. But I couldn't help noticing that the French style ...the Parisian style ... is in evidence amongst the women. Stylish shoes, unexpected combinations of fabrics. Unlike Spain, French women seldom leave their hair alone: it's usually short, tinted, streaked, bleached, or out-and-out dyed. 

As with men in the US, the French men are pretty uniformly schlubs (like me). A surprisingly (gratifyingly) large fraction of women take care of themselves and are usually quite slender and beautifully turned out. From the back, one typically can't tell if a woman is in her teens or her fifties.

For example, take the woman at left with the tasteful polka dots and the platform heels. How old would you guess she is? While I can't say with precision, I'm willing to bet you miss by a decade. You may be able to find her striking face amongst those in the image below. Did you estimate right?

Except for the polka dot lady and the child with the cookie, these are all vendors, utterly committed to the friendly banter of commerce. I'm sure it makes everything better.

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<p>Market People (mostly vendors)</p>

Market People (mostly vendors)

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<p>We went to La Cardamone for a...

We went to La Cardamone for a vegetarian lunch, and it was delicious: the French sense of presentation and seasoning with all the lovely flavors of India. In the background, a gentle Om on the music system. "Hippy heaven," pronounced Rochelle, as a good share of the customers and all the servers were of the hippy persuasion (including me again.) The dahl had a lemon cream flower on top, and the vegetable curry was rich in cardamom flavors. Rochelle's salade composée was painterly. (The colors here aren't as good as they really were, because the light was poor and I had to flash.)

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I just taught this website a new trick: TOPICS! Here's something to try to get a review of Great Lunches We Have Et: click here. (Opens in a new window).

Also works for dinners and markets!

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