Saturday Market Loot

May 17, 2010 § 2 Comments

Look at the beautiful artichoke!

I’d been planning to go to the Saturday market in Vauvert for a few days, so when I woke up yesterday, I put on my shoes and hoodie straightaway and got on my bicycle, with just a pear in my belly — no proper breakfast, and no coffee, for I was all out of the latter, making the ride into town pretty necessary.

Confident that the ride would be no more difficult than my test run a few days ago, I was surprised by how awful it really turned out to be.  Not only was I hungry and uncaffeinated, despite the clear blue sky and sparkling sun, the wind was blowing so strongly that I had to pedal twice as hard to keep moving, adjusting the handlebars every few seconds to keep myself in a straight line.  Even going downhill wasn’t the usual thrill — I actually had to pedal to do that as well.  But I steeled myself, and hummed “Good Intentions Paving Company” from Joanna Newsom’s new record to keep me going.

[Ecstatic side note: I opened another tab to find Joanna Newsom’s Drag City website URL to link here, and in so doing discovered that she’s playing PARIS on May 31st, my second last night there.  Ten minutes later, I have bought a ticket and will be there to hear the new album live!  Hooray — despite my tendency to weep through her shows.]

The Saturday market is even bigger than the Wednesday market, naturally, and even more packed with people.  Clothing and produce stalls start in a straight line, making a left down a narrow alley, and opening up into a full-on market square, flanked by boulangeries, chartucheries and one sole bar that’s always packed, even in the mornings, with dudes drinking beer and cassis, and some less raucous dudes having coffee — which I did, because I am a decent dude and hadn’t had any all morning.

Among the exciting sights at the market are the freshly in-season melons, asparagus of various girths, and beautiful artichokes of every size and color you could imagine.  There were also two makeshift shops selling nothing but whole poulets rotis (roast chickens) and one with a giant metal platter of the yellowest, most beautiful paella I had ever seen, for sale by the kilogram.  Unfortunately, because I was intimidated by the bike ride back to the residency (it ended up being a piece of cake) and because I was saving ample room in my backpack to safely carry back a half-dozen eggs (you know how I feel about them!), I passed on both the chicken and the paella.  But watch out Vauvert — I’m going to blast through town next Saturday!

For such a Spartan studio, there really are some curiously specific cooking utensils on hand here.  I discovered a steamer!  And inspired by Janine Gdalia’s cookery a few days ago, and with sympathy for my pathetic, barely-emulsified, totally splitting homemade “mayonnaise” languishing in the fridge, I decided to steam up my beautiful artichoke and asparagus, over a pot full of water, a few garlic cloves, and some pieces of lemon.

**If you do this at home, note that the asparagus will be done in half the time (about ten to fifteen miutes) it takes the artichoke, which isn’t ready until you can easily pluck leaves off it.

See how the asparagus spears match the artichoke!

Confession: this was the first time I'd ever prepared either vegetable.

More on what I did with the rest of the mayonnaise (which actually wasn’t that terrible, tastewise) when I post next — thirty seconds from now, no doubt.

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