Sunday, January 25, 2009

il pleure dans mon coeur...

And on the first day, it rained. And on the second day, it rained. And on the third day...

I wish I could send a little of this rain back home. I've nearly forgotten what drought looks like.

You'll forgive me if I talk about the marché again, won't you? I'm certain it will become one of my favorite things in France. Yesterday it was rainy (as usual) when I woke up, so I was very disappointed because I had been looking forward to going to the market. I got up and took my time over a leisurely breakfast of a palmier from the bakery next door. All that butter and flaky pastry dough compensated for a little of the disappointment. But then, after breakfast, I started feeling hopelessly antsy. I think I have market ingrained in my mind after months of marketing, rain or shine, earthquake or flood, fire or brimstone. The market demon might come get me if I miss one. So I collected my raincoat, umbrella, and waterproof shoes and headed to market anyway. And, as if my voyage out were sanctioned by a higher power, the rain let up and then ceased altogether. Unfortunately, I didn't take my camera for fear of it getting wet, but there will be plenty of time for market photos.

I'm certainly glad I trekked to market yesterday, for I found something I had hoped to find: raw milk. Yes my dears, the thought of being able to buy raw milk with impunity was in the back of my mind for months before departing for France. Now that I've become accustomed to drinking raw milk, I knew that I would have to find some somewhere, and the French did not let me down, oh no. I procured a litre of raw, organic, locally and artisanally produced milk yesterday from a small farmer who also sold all manner of amazing dairy products like crème fraîche, butter, and mild, unaged cheeses. And let me tell you, the flavor of this milk is absolutely unsurpassed. Many people tell me that they don't like goat's milk because it has a certain flavor to it. Sometimes people call it a goaty flavor or just a strong flavor. After tasting this milk my hypothesis is that after drinking ultra-pasteurized, and thus flavorless, milk for years upon years, the national palate has become accustomed to flavorless milk. So when people encounter raw milk or even fresh, gently-pasteurized milk, the flavor throws them off. This milk, although it was cow's milk, had a flavor unlike any milk I have tasted before. Rich, buttery, even slightly grassy, this milk was absolutely amazing. Flavor of this kind cannot be purchased from the grocery store.

In other news, I also found the cheeses to my liking yesterday. Particularly the roquefort and mimolette, which I couldn't pass by without buying a petit morceau (a little piece). The thing that thrills me about the cheese vendors at market here is that they're piled high with cheese and this cheese stinks. I mean, it reeks. It takes me right back to the cheese kitchen at Spinning Spider. That strong, musky, piquant scent that sort of tickles your sinuses is indicative of real, honest cheese. Most vendors don't have samples out, but I can take one look at these cheeses and ascertain that they are fabulous. Cheese nerds know exactly what I'm talking about. By smell and sight you can usually find the fromage of your dreams. I think I'm also a little biased against samples because we fool with them so much in the states, and I know many people (yes, I am talking to you) who take their fill of samples from the cheese plate and seldom buy anything. I'm sure that if I had asked, the cheesemonger would have given me a little piece to taste, but I really didn't think that necessary. And my intuition was spot-on.

Oh, there were plenty of things to drool over yesterday, even if it was rainy. And the crowds were less pressing too. Here's to all the hardcore market-goers out there. Salut!

1 comment:

Cynthia said...

Told you it would rain a lot. I'm glad you're too far north to have suffered those winds (hurricane strength -category 2!) that Spain and southwestern France have had.

Cheese, cheese, frooooomagge. Marche, marche, any "aux puces" yet? Photo, photo, phffffootttoooooo. Compris?