Saturday, 5 July 2008

Le marché numéro deux - Mons la Trivalle, Languedoc-Roussillon, France

Not counting the beautiful, but very touristic Marché de la Rue Mouffetard in Paris three years ago, this was my first experience of a French market.

You are unimpressed??

:) It was lovely!

This was the first market of the season, in a small, largely unremarkable village of Mons la Trivalle - in the southern departement of Languedoc-Roussillon; not far from Beziers (a centre of the region that produces 70 percent of table wine in France) and Carcassonne. I was visiting it with my wwoofing host - Odile - who was attempting to sell her unplentiful, but very cute, for that week produce (she told me with a little smirk in her eyes that her customers often remark 'c'est tres jolie, donc c'est plus cher!):

3 courgettes: one, the classic long and green; second; sweet and golden; third; round and stripey.

3 types of potatoes; with Cherie being most pretty and delicate (no resemblence to other Cheries..;).

200 grammes of petit pois.

A tiny little box of raspberries which some customers found irrestible.

Lots of different jams, mainly with figs: white fig, fig and apple, fig culie and many others. Needless to say, everything that Odile sells comes from her own garden - the same one I'm currently burning my back in:).

The only exception is perhaps some of her Indian spice: cardamom; cumin, black pepper..Odile and her husband Jacque love travelling and spent 3 months in India last year. More on my hosts later..

Odile's stall was one of three on that day: a man selling local Rosé and a sweet little Nigerian woman called Cecilia selling African snacks were the other two. Cecilia gave me to try freshly fried small balls of cod pate mixed with her 'secret' spices and covered in flour - really light and unexpectedly yummy; as well as a taster of some exotic juice. Well, I figured out that the most exotic in that drink was that she added a big glug of rum to a bottle of fruit juice, but it was very tasty; especially since it was a bizarly cold day.

Most of the customers at the market were holiday-makers visiting the village. The place's main draw is a magnificent Gorge d'Heric. Apparrently the area is flooded by all sorts of 'foreigners': Americans, Germans, English, Flemish, and the French from others parts of France; many dont just visit the region, but stay here quite permanently. I met an example of that - a character all wrinkled and unmistakenly tanned under the French sun, wearing a garish t-shirt saying 'Glastonbury 2005'. His name was David, he's lived in the village for something like 13 years (prior to that he was actually originally from around Glastonbury), spoke incredible French with just as impressive English accent (later that evening I met David during the outing with my hosts in a local hung-out, where he taught me such useful expressions as 'prendre son pied', ie take your leg, which means 'really enjoying yourself' - the discovery was followed by a lenghty discussion of other Anglo-French origins. I remember explaining the difference between 'I am pissed' and 'I need to pee' to a daughter of my hosts..).

That's how ended my first day at the French market. Oh, and I managed to sell a tub of fig jam in French to a reluctant French couple who grow figs themselves!

Right now I'm sitting on the first floor of the house of my hosts (I have the whole floor for myself!). I keep getting up at 8-9 o'clock in the morning and feeling very guitly; but then I try to pay back by scorching myself in the garden - bliss:)) Tomorrow we are moving to an 'ecological camp site', built by Odile and Jacque in the shady area next to their garden: no electricity; bio-toilet; fire for making dinners..

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