To those of you in tomato-deprived parts of the world, I can only say that these are as delicious as they look, or possibly even more so. The tomatoes are so juicy that after I made a diced salad of tomatoes, fresh basil, peppers, shallots, and some bits of fromage de brebis, soft and smooth as the sheep it came from, I had to put the whole thing in a bowl over slices of fresh bread in order not to waste a drop of the nectar. Ah, market day.
Have you heard the expression serré comme des sardines? It means just what you’d guess, packed like sardines. That was the Saturday market at 10:30 in the morning. It was impossible to walk unless the person in front of you agreed to keep moving. We heard a couple of Americans, a couple of Brits, a couple of Germans, but otherwise, all of the other hundreds of sardines were French. Next week we’ll go a lot earlier.
There’s a lot of talk about how not all market vendors are what they seem to be, and indeed, some were selling produce that obviously came from crates and was no better than what we can buy at the market down the block. But others, like the tomato vendors, and these wonderful honey folks, are obviously the real thing.
The jar on the left is labeled “squirrel’s treat” and it’s a mix of crushed hazelnuts, toasted almonds, and a gorgeous honey that’s faintly orange scented. French squirrels must be the envy of the squirrel kingdom, and we salute them for sparing some of their luscious treat for our morning toast. The pain d’epices is also incredibly good. They had dozens of types of honey and several variations on the cake, and were the nicest and most helpful vendors imaginable. We’ll be their customers for as long as we’re here, as I can’t see any reason to ever go elsewhere for our honey fix.
We also did some utilitarian shopping: a new vinaigrier for the bit of my vinegar mother that traveled with us from home, now repatriated to her native France, some bright red table napkins and potholders, and some “invisible socks” for Shel. It’s the style for men to wear ankle socks in summer, and so, although at first he said he’d rather be shot against a wall than wear them, now he looks French, at least from the ankles down. The sock lady was also a treat unto herself, and she blew me away when she suggested mixing black and white invisible socks. After quite a bit of “no way, that’ll be the day” I realized that she was offering to mix the three pack of socks into some black pairs, some white. And all the while I’d thought she’d been telling me that it would be fashionable for Shel to wear one white and one black sock, which although they claim to be invisible, are not invisible enough for that!