Saturday, 12 July 2008

Lamalou-les-bains, number three

This was certainly a bigger set up, in fact a lot bigger than the recent markets in Languedoc, but the place was still a surprise. Yet again it was not a market that I had expected to see. If you ask me what kind of markets I had in fact anticipated I would probably have to confess that something very pretty, orderly, lots of colourful stalls and big-bellied men enticing me to try yet another slice of sausisson or fromage - so a cute stereotype.

Well, it was all of that too:) but in fact half of this market was devoted to 'unexpensive' cloths, khmkhm, or you could call it Chinese tack. Maybe it was something about the setting. The town of Lamalou is basically a thermal resort. You know it's a kind of old-fashioned Les Bains that one would imagine encountering at the turn of the century, visited by fragile ladies, needing to care for their resperatory deseased, and all sorts of other creatures, many of whom with missing limbs and discoloured faces (one can only wonder what magic this termal waters can do to an amputated leg...).

I was, however, very quickly summoned by a cheerful and yes, rather big-bellied charmer, to try his Paella. The latter was enormous, with huge chunks of chicken and squid. I asked him, looking very naively, why paella, monsieur? Both of Pépé's parents (can't believe such a big man can have such a childish name!) were Spanish and so it was a natural thing for him to do to open a paella restaurant. He then gave me his card, with his number and made me promise that I'll send him this photo. Remind me, will ya??
I then spotted something that I'd been dreaming of for quite some time in London...fresh oysters! Loads, cheap, with an obligatory glass of white wine! I had 6 of them in one go, helping the process with the wine which did feel very behemian at 11 o'clock in the morning, but hey;).

The oysters were very plump and beautifully coloured - dark black with milky white. They were also incredibly salty. In fact, they had lots of sea water still in their shells which I at first gulped together with the animal, but quickly saw that the natives were using small folks to fish out the oyster. Just thinking about that plate of silver, quivering beauties make me drall right now...gosh, this sounds a bit like a trashy lesbian novel:). Moving on..

The fish stall was beautiful full stop, with this very impressive monster right in front of it. I am so much looking forward to my after wwoofing trip to Marseille and near-by places: oysters, bouillabaisse, fish, more fish, nyam!

I then came across the items I'd been missing so much in London ( and at times, very curious about) - the innings! Ie offal, of a pig in this case: pig trotters (where were you when I wanted to make my mum's kholodets??), tongues, liver, langues, and something I'd never come across before - a pig's heart. I asked the seller how do you make it?? From what I understood you have to boil it for good couple of hours, then cut in half and fry with some garlic and olive oil. Sounds delish to me!

Towards to end of the market I saw something even more unusual - for me anyway, although I can imagine many now screaming, common, everyone knows about theeese. Little brow, scrunchy..things in a plastic bag.

They were in fact washing nuts; or nuts for washing; or noix de lavage. These nuts come from the Latin America and are a natural, completely allergen-free (or so they claim at least) washing detergent. You only need a handful of these, and you can even re-use them several times. I would have definitely bought a bag for my habushka's delicate skin, but the package was too big for my backpacking existence.

I then went for a strall around the town, had a coffee with a funny-looking apple cake (well, it is actually called Le cake!). I felt very much the lady of the 1930's - thinking of myself as very independent and well-travelled!

The last two days have seen amazing thunderstorms here, in fact right now I'm sitting in a sellar of my hosts' house (don't ask why) and the sounds of the rain outside are very comforting and soothing...Tomorrow is my last day in Julio, with Jaque and Odile. We are going to celebrate the eve of the Day of Bastille with a bottle of Rosé, both of which are very popular here. I'm then on my own for a day in Carcassonne, watching the breath-taking fireworks of the 14th of July. Let's see what the next place brings..


Anonymous said...

Avid readers of Katrina's blog will have noticed that, after 6 oysters & half a bottle of wine, her spelling really took off & became bizarre & creative. (So ? I bet Conrad had problems w. English spelling)

Anyway I appreciate it. We do get a feeling of the way her thoughts are going. I hope someone here will try one of her recipes. And she seems to cope effortlessly with everything - Queen of the mountains (Did you really wear that flimsy dress up the mountain, K ?)
Keep the messages coming !

Katrina said...

I feel like I should post a separate message explaining my talent for spelling:). But thanks for the message (even though I know who it is, it would help others if people put names underneath their messages. spasibo) I'll be back soon with more material!

Anonymous said...

Katjia I just read your entire blog, and it was breathtaking! I was meaning to just have a look at it, given that I am supposed to be studying and writing an essay, but I was drawn to it and read the whole lot. I am soooo jealous, it sounds lovely and beautiful and picturesque this whole travelling thing.
Put some more pictures up of you and do keep the messages coming..
x x x