Marcher dans le Marché

26 Sep

Some would argue that the key to cooking well is choosing the right ingredients, and I personally feel there is no better place to acquire the seasonable fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, herbs etc than at a French market. Not only do they contain some of the most beautifully fresh items I have even seen, but the variety is beyond comprehension. To introduce this very French way of shopping, and to help guide us through the labyrinth that is the Parisian marché, Madame Marie-Blanche took Anna and I on a sort of fieldtrip to a nearby market.

My senses were immediately overloaded by the sites, smells, sounds and pulsing energy that this popular destination in the 8th arrondissemnt provided.

We began our lesson by learning about different fish, seafood, meats and cheeses popular in France. We then wound through the long thin corridor of the market where local farmers were showing off their plethora of fresh produce. Intermingled throughout were plump flower stands containing a wide assortment of colours and smells. The aromatic adventure didn’t end there as were were guided through an area containing all sorts of herbs, spices and any kind of seasoning you could imagine.

 

Truly this place is a foodie’s delight and the difficultly isn’t finding the right ingredients, but more so making sure you don’t go overboard and end up buying out the place and having to hire three trucks to bring it all back to the tiny 2 sq meter kitchen of your Parisian apartment. Also there to thwart your skills of restraint are dozens of vendors offering exquisite soaps and stunning jewelry, clothing and accessories. While I found the “fashion” stands in the London markets somewhat tacky and the items rather cheaply executed, the textiles offered in this wondrous network of merchandise were made from the finest furs, leather goods, and gems, this truly adhering to the Parisian stereotype of good taste.

I could have stayed there all day, but the kitchen back at school was awaiting us and my grumbling tummy and salivating lips were only making matters worse. We grabbed some fresh veggies for our meal-to-be and headed back to school.

Our instructors decided to keep the afternoon somewhat simple by showing us how to make a flavorful countryside favorite called “La Bohémienne”. This welcoming dish resembles a ratatouille in flavor, but combines more simple ingredients in a less finicky fashion to create a satisfying soul-food meal. Red peppers, eggplant, and skinned, deseeded tomatoes made up most of it, with thyme, bay leaf and freshly crushed coriander as the seasoning. Served atop this hearty heap were deep fried eggs, something I’m devastated I was not aware of until now. Unlike the usual fried eggs we are accustomed to, this method of cooking the egg in a pot of hot oil gives it the most amazingly crispy finish that perfectly compliments the smooth and chunky texture of the bohémienne.

For dessert we made a simply executed, but complexly flavored dish of strawberries, cream, sugar and green peppercorn – an amazing treat on its own or served on top icecream.

The market was marvelous, the food was fabulous and my only regret is that I don’t have more than one stomach to cram in all the amazing things I’ve been learning to make.

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