à l’aise = at ease
It’s that time of year again. May 1st brings the first of the tourists, the beginnings of summer foods and summer attitudes. By which I mean everyone is either on vacation or starting to think about it. Not only is May 1st a holiday – celebrating the ancient pagan new year – and most people have the day off from work, there are three other days this May that are also jours fériés: the 8th (celebrating the end of WWII), the 17th and the 27th. Why? Because c’est la France!
And who wants to work at the height of spring, anyway?
Already this month has brought all sorts of pleasures. I have plenty of teaching – something that spring doesn’t always guarantee. Soon, Je Mange Toute la France will be celebrating its 100th post. Stay tuned for two big celebration entries. The husband and I are planning our summer vacation. Laura at Sprint 2 the Table has asked me to do a guest post for her blog – which was so flattering and I’m super excited about it. I was enlisted by the local bookstore to bake scones for an author signing this week with the promise of making some literary contacts here in France and of course it’s good blog promotion, and the best news of the week:
A story of mine is being published in a printed anthology. (See my writing page for info.) If you’re a writer, you’ll know what a big deal this is. There are so many great online literary journals out there, but there is something so satisfying of seeing your words in tangible, grainy white and black. I’m thrilled.
And as I mentioned, it’s May. That means long days, balmy mornings, green canopied trees, and colorful markets.
Farmer’s Markets are all the rage in the US – or so I hear – right now. But common? My students are often surprised when I tell them that open air markets in the States can still be something of a luxury.
Even though I’ve been here for almost three years, and I walk through the market on the way to work every morning, those days when I have time to spend shopping à l’aise are moments I still treasure. The market in la Seyne is small, traditional, and many of the vendors know me by sight, if not by name.
Not only do I walk through the market, I run through it – usually two hours before at dawn when the vendors are setting up their tables. I knew I was a local, accepted when they stopped asking me about my accent and started calling me la sportive de la Seyne.
Black chalk signs always list price per kilo, name and origin. Buying local – or close to local as you can get is taken seriously here. Unless you have a heavy craving for – oh mangoes – or something else that can’t grow in France.
This time, I bought smoked salmon from him. Two thick slices, hand-smoked for 3 Euro. Possibly extravagant, maybe not. But they were sliced off the fish right before my eyes.
Go early. That’s the advice the books give you and it’s true. If you want the best, ripest, and plenty of it you want to go as soon as the market opens. Here in la Seyne that means leaving the house at 8:30 on a Sunday morning. On the upside the crowds haven’t yet massed and I can safely move about with bags of shopping hanging from both arms and my purse hanging open spilling pens, lipstick, and my iPod all over the cobbled street.
- smoked salmon, sliced
- red cabbage
- fresh baguette
- olive oil
- lemon juice
- salt and pepper
Rinse, slice, combine, toss. Serve.
And throw in a little tomato and cheese on the side, because I can’t resist. Simple, colorful, filling and full of good stuff. The way a market and its following lunch should be.
I recently about people in inner-city neighborhoods who don’t have access to fresh produce. So fill me in: Where do you shop? Are open-air or farmer’s markets popular where you live?