27 November 2007

French markets

ONE of the things I loved during my time in France was the country’s old-school way of enjoying food.

The entire time I was there I hardly came across any big supermarkets. What I did see lots of were plenty of neighborhood butchers, fishmongers, patisseries and, my personal favourite, fromageries (cheese shops).

While all of those neighbourhood shops were brilliant, the real highlight was the markets: big ones, small ones, regional ones, metropolitan ones. Some were listed in the tourist guides and some we just stumbled across when we turned a corner, but each was a bustling centre of producers selling their wares and a mix of locals and tourists browsing, sampling and buying what was on offer including meats, cheeses, olives, fruit, vegetables and even flowers.

But the best thing about the bevy of markets was the classic French attitude that the convenience of a one-stop-shop supermarket is inconsequential compared to being able to stock pantries with food that has been lovingly picked, prepared and then sold with a word or two of advice on how to best prepare it.

I could ramble on about how much of a treat it was to be absorbed in a country that values quality food so highly. But I think in this case pictures speak a thousand words...

- Zoe

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