Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Market Day in the South of France



Our local town is not the prettiest town in the south of France. It's far from ugly - it's a small town in the south of France - but it's not picture postcard beautiful either. I don't believe that tourism is particularly high on it's agenda. It is a working town, bustling with local activity, its narrow streets lined with small shops catering to the needs of people who live and work here; oil cloths, chainsaws, candles shaped like cauliflowers. I find them all terrifying to be honest. They are so small, and quiet and piled high with things. The thought of performing my speciality manoeuvre here -  admire something on a high shelf reach for it, turn to show Nye and knock everything from waist to shoulder height to the ground with my backpack - horrifies me. It also horrifies my husband, which is why he mostly refuses to enter shops with me, in any country. 

The market is less scary. At the market I can disappear into a crowd of people, all busy and pushing and shoving to get to the best tomatoes. At the market I can pretend not to hear people ask me questions I don't understand over the din of everyone else in the town talking and laughing and shopping. At the market everything is at table height, so I would have to try really hard to knock anything over. Except for the teetering vats of paella and fritters and grilled chicken; they are at chest height. Which I suppose is sensible in terms of keeping them away from children's fingers, but that the stuff in my danger zone is sizzling hot is a danger that I could do without. 

We haven't been to the market a lot. To be honest I find it completely overwhelming, like a kid at Disney Land; it's fun and it's exciting and there are so many shiny things to look at! but afterwards I feel like something in my brain has short circuited. There is so much choice, so many things I want to eat but don't know how to ask for, so much to try and carry in two hands and one backpack, so many smells and noises and tastes and sights and people and OHMYGOD I need to sit in an empty room for three hours afterwards, at the very least.

The last time we went to the market the asparagus was in full season and apricots cost €5.90 a kilo, which means it was likely about five weeks ago. I think we will go tomorrow, five weeks is far too long. The asparagus will be gone but the sardines and the tomatoes and the rabbit brains in tiny plastic tubs will be ripe for the taking and apricots cost a third of what they did. It's a beautiful time of the year.