Saturday, 13 November 2010
I pouted a little writing this title and Jack laughed at me for writing it then leaving it up for a solid ten minutes. The truth is, today I slept through the Saturday market and the trip to town. In Valencia, shopping in the central market was a daily possibility. Toting my trolley, five minutes of walking, dodging motos and the older women of the neighborhood with their trolleys, brought me to the soaring, Modernist expanse of the market. Inside, was an overwhelming array of fruit, vegetables, spices, herbs, dried fruits, nuts, seafood and meat. When we first moved to Valencia, the unexpected discovery of a pig's head or an entire monkfish, not to mention the pressure of choosing a stall out of the dozens selling what I needed, pushed me back into the supermarket. It was only after a few months, and narrowing my options down to a few stands (based on the crowds gathering around them--I went for the oldest and most feisty patrons), that I started to get comfortable. I learned how to ask for what I was looking for--whether it was ripe tomatoes to eat that day or good soup vegetables. The produce was local, seasonal and cheaper than the supermarket. I got used to being called "bonica" and the undersized fruit that the owner of my favorite fruit stand would toss in the bag with my purchases. As a special treat, we'd pick up lunch from the Greek stand, and feast on stuffed grape leaves, and stofado straight from the container. I left Valencia for this small town in France with a private commitment to whatever the local market might be.
It turns out the local market here is quite different from the array of Valencia's Mercado Central. It's a weekly market, reflecting the area's rural set-up, with the fruit and vegetables set out in stalls on the cobbled streets, while meat, pastries and fish are inside. There seems to be only a couple of each category: goats' cheese, flowers, apples, vegetables, pies and Vietnamese take-out. There's an air of excitement to this market that I think comes from it being a special day in the week. Saturday is market day. I feel more comfortable here than I did in Valencia initially, but I have a long way to go before I feel the welcome of 'my' stands in the Mercado Central. I'm back to communicating with gestures and facial expressions. I'm hopeful, however. I have had my eye on the basket stall for a few weeks now. Instead of trolleys, the patrons of this market carry around small, woven baskets for their purchases. Of course there are also the classic, French totes. The basket seems key. With such a basket I could, perhaps, blend in... at least before attempting to engage a vendor. I must, however, wake up in time to get there in the first place. As it so happens, my in-laws did make it to the market without me. They bought a delicious, free-range chicken which was roasted for dinner. I can't wait for next Market Saturday. (Hopefully there will be chestnuts at the market soon, image from Plain English )