Friday, April 14, 2017

Thursday April 13 - Farm Fresh - Brissac Market

Eating and drinking in France may seem like a preoccupation for us, but I think it's a preoccupation for the French as well. The French "shop the perimeter" as your nutritionist would tell you to do. Fresh foods are abundant and even packaged foods tend to be packaged with less preservatives. Storefronts, grocery stores and markets are full of products labeled "bio" meaning organic. And when they say organic they mean it. Pesticides are carefully regulated here and fresh food really is fresh.

Markets are popular and there's one somewhere in the vicinity every day of the week. The French take their food seriously and it shows. At the market, you stand in line and tell the vendor what you want. Even in the vegetable stall, you let the vendor pick the veggies, then weigh and bag them. The exception often is headed things - lettuces, cauliflower, etc. - which you can usually pick up and hand to the vendor.
Olive vendor
We are always looking for the olive vendor. Aperos need to include olives. We especially like Lucques olives which we discovered in Languedoc in 2011. They are fresh olives and have a taste unlike any other olive we have tried. We can't get them in the US, so we overdose on them when in France. This olive vendor had Lucques, so we bought about a pound. We had Ben try them - Ben has never met an olive he liked. But he ate these with a "not bad" comment. With more time, we'd be able to convert him to an olive eater, I'm sure.
We only left a few Lucques olives behind at this market

Nutrition here is easy - fruits and vegetables come directly from the "producteurs", the producers.
What you see is what you get. Likewise, meats, cheeses and fish come from trusted vendors or the producteurs themselves.

fruits and vegetables 

The cheese vendor has a sense of humor - when we asked him what cheese we were buying, he replied that he didn't know.

vegetable stall with lots of lettuces

Breads have no preservatives and are purchased fresh each morning from the local baker.

There are supermarkets - sometimes gigantically large. It's not uncommon to have 2 aisles of cheeses, 2 of prepared meats (like sandwich slices, sausages). Of course they also have deli, butcher and bakery departments. Lots of them sell clothing, kitchenwares, and other sundries. At first I found this odd, but as we drive through these small, rural towns, I've come to realize that while they have the essentials - butcher and baker, a bar and a pizza restaurant, they usually don't have clothing or kitchen stores. So these large grocery stores provide access to these needed goods.

But even in the supermarkets, food seems fresh and well-labeled. Produce must be labeled to indicate where it comes from, so you can see strawberries in the store from Spain but also from the next county south of us. Availability of a particular lettuce, cabbage, or grape depends on when it is ripe, although this part of France has a mild enough climate that much can be procured locally.

Packaging is also minimal here. You bring your own re-usable bags to the market. Produce is put directly into your bag. If bagging things like cherry tomatoes is needed, small paper sacks are used. All the wrapping products (including the plastic film and zip baggies we use) are bio-degradable and at least in our area, recycling is available for bottles, glass, paper, trash and even compostables.

So we eat well in France - yesterday we had grilled lamb with Charlotte potatoes, fresh asparagus, and salad. It's impossible to describe how flavorful things like red pepper and tomatoes are, even realizing we're coming from winter Wisconsin to advanced spring France.

And then there are desserts - beautiful, luscious displays in the patisserie of fruit torts and chocolate cakes. We don't usually eat dessert, but as yesterday was Janis' birthday, we ordered a chocolate cake.
Even the box the cake came in is beautiful

The chocolate tablet says Joyeuse Anniversaire Janis

It came with a flat chocolate disk on which was written "Joyeuse Anniversaire Janis". And the cake was more chocolate mousse than cake, with several layers of various chocolate flavors and textures. When we picked it up, the baker wished Janis a happy birthday in a store crowded with shoppers. And this morning, when Dave went to pick up the day's supply of bread,  she asked how we liked the cake. Clark has a birthday coming in a few days, so we will have a dessert again then.

Oh, wait, one more thing. There's the lady across the street who raises chickens. We have bought eggs from her twice now and they are beautiful - large yokes, fresh from the chickens and delicious. We've been scrambling them with spinach, mushrooms, red pepper, onion - whatever we have on hand. Delicious every iteration of them. Benefits of living in the country.... Farm Fresh
Eggs from our neighbor's chickens - notice the blue one

This is what these lovely eggs look like once cooked for breakfast: Beautiful large yellow orange yolks

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