The French market. If you have ever been to France, you know very well their world famous markets, which are probably just as ingrained in French culture as the baguette. Common throughout all of France, you can usually find one on any given day of the week with most villages hosting their own version, ranging in size from only a few stands, to others filling entire village streets. As with much of the French way of life, shopping at the market means taking your time. It is an experience to savor and a chance to say hello to your neighbor, often followed by a leisurely lunch or coffee in the village square. Mornings at a market are meant for browsing, wandering the stalls, ambitiously contemplating your next menu.
Markets are interwoven in the lifestyle of this country and to me epitomize the French culture for food. Fresh, seasonal, diverse and often local. Juicy strawberries from Carepentras, sweet scented cantaloupes from Cavaillon or ripe figs fallen straight from Provence branches. French markets define the farm to table concept. Produce, breads, cheese, olives, honey and flowers. Delicately embroidered linens, tapenade made of olives pressed in the Luberon or pottery created in an atelier tucked away in the heart of Cucuron. Markets are a chance to discover local artisans and to observe the French way of life.
Friday is our local market day in Lourmarin and is a weekly ritual that I have lovingly embraced. Much about our life has changed here in Provence and food is part of that change. We now shop the French way. No more running to a grocery store on the way home from work or after a yoga class on the weekend. We plan our meals around the current season offering, choosing only the ripest ingredients or choosing something else. The food we eat is grown throughout this area. We know our farmers and we buy from their garden. Eric has faithfully spoken about the taste of Provence, I now get it. Often simple food, but always fresh and always full of flavor brimming from the Provence terroir and the abundant sunshine.
French markets transcend food, they are a way of life, each capturing the essence of its village. In a world where everything is at our fingertips, markets remain our true connection to the old way. They are an opportunity to meet the farmer, the baker, the cheese maker or the artisan. They force us to slow our pace, they arouse our five senses and turn the mundanity of grocery shopping into a human experience. French markets instill French culture and show how food can bring a country together. For me they are a reminder of a more simple and true way of life, essentials that I am seeking in this moment of my life...