Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Nitty Gritty Part 2: Shopping

Where do we shop in France? There are two answers: the famer’s markets and the Carrefour.

Farmer's Markets

I’ve told you about a bit about the farmer’s markets. There is a different farmer’s market in a different village every day of the week except Monday. Monday seems to be the day of rest for farmer’s market vendors.

We like the Pezenas market the best, which is on Saturdays. Unfortunately, it is at least a 2.5-hour event due to the 30-minute-each-way drive, so we only go every few weeks. But they have the best herb sausage, dehydrated strawberries, goutalis (like falafel, only much better), and frommage – especially the frommage de cheval (goat cheese). It is also a larger market than the others, so there is more to see there – including clothes, bags, knick knacks, etc. It’s similar to the Flea Market in Santa Cruz, only everything is new.

Every Thursday, we go to the market in Meze, which is the largest village nearby (5 minute drive). All the market pictures in this post are from Meze. Meze has the best paella and grapes (sold by a sweet, little old man!).

Most of the markets are completely outdoors, but Meze also has a building that houses regular vendors. In the outdoors section, the meat is sold from trucks. Picture this: goat brains (I’m serious!) beside rabbits with their entrails hanging out (still serious) beside pork chops beside chickens with their feet still on beside sausages beside mystery meat – all open to the flies. And, the butcher will serve one person goat brains with his bare hands, then serve up your order with the same hands! No gloves, no soap and water, no signs of refrigeration! Debb says that you can taste the difference between the butcher’s meat and the Carrefour (see below) . . . but I’m afraid to try that particular experiment!

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Here is an idea of what our shopping excursions look like.

The Carrefour

At least once a week (usually twice), Dado goes to the Cultural Center. That is the locals’ nickname for the Carrefour. The Carrefour is a grocery store – and so much more. You all know how I feel about our weekly trips to Costco back in the US, right? Well, the Carrefour is much like that: huge, crowded, time consuming, but absolutely necessary. The Carrefour defies description. I’ve never seen anything like it in the US. It sells everything you can think of besides live animals. Computers, school supplies, art & craft stuff, clothes, every type of food available in the area, meat, cheese, produce, linens, bikes . . . It’s like a Walmart, grocery store, strip mall combination. And, did I mention that it’s huge? And crowded?

To fully understand the size of the Carrefour: The gophers actually wear roller skates to get around the store!

The Carrefour is where we buy our meat and staples: kid food, canned stuff, etc. Well, we certainly don’t buy this kind of meat at the Carrefour! If the picute isn't clear enough - that is viande de cheval = horse meat!

All of our bread comes from the local boulangeries. Our Bouzigues boulangerie has the best tradicione (similar to a baguette, but more rustic) and sliced Moison (think whole grain). There is a boulangerie in Meze that has the best croissants and another in Meze with the best pain au chocolate.

For the truly curious, there are more pictures of the market on our Flickr site:

The pictures on the Flickr site are always better than what you see here, too.

Love to all!

1 comment:

Melissa said...

ooooooooooh, I love Carrefour! I love that the locals call it the "cultural center" - truly an experience, indeed!