Monday, September 5, 2011

Last of the summer wine...

    Each Friday night during July and August, our village holds a marché gourmand. The best way to think of it is as a large street party. What started out as a small local event several years ago now takes up a major section of the main rue and attracts crowds, sometimes of literally hundreds, from several kilometres around.
    Midway through Friday afternoon, barriers are set up to divert the traffic and long trestle tables and benches are put in place. No plates or cutlery or glasses. You either bring your own or rely on the food truck you're buying from to supply them. Lately, we've been eating Asian food made by a lady who lives in nearby Regat but is originally from Vientiane in Laos. She and her family work incredibly hard. I'd already seen her in Lavelanet market that morning selling her noodle stir fry, spring rolls, shrimp beignets and samosas. (The French for chopsticks, by the way, is "baguettes" and, while I'm at it, baguette is also a word for what the conductor conducts the orchestra with.)
    Riiiight, back on to the main topic. You can buy pork chops, merguez, chorizo and regular saucisse, steaks of various kinds, slabs of ribs...from the butcher and have them grilled over charcoal.

    To the right of the butcher's truck, cut off by my inept photography, is a mother lode of spitting, hissing, finger-burning frites with ample dispensers of mayonnaise and ketchup to squirt over them. Elsewhere you can take away escargots, paella, magrets-frites-and-persillade and more Asian food. All of which says something about modern French tastes, at least in our part of the country.
    You sit down where you can with old friends, and with people you've just met. There's bread from the boulangerie. Bottles of wine. A lot of sharing goes on. Here's what the street looks like when the night market's at its peak. This one was less crowded than usual. Because it's September, most visitors had gone home so the night had a friendly local feel to it.

    Dessert was locally-made ewe's milk ice cream. The sharp-eyed amongst you will be able to make out some of the flavours on the list, which includes violet and rose-petal. Peter had chocolate. I licked away at a boule of  caramel flecked with sel de Gruissan. 
     The weather the previous Friday had been so abysmal that the planned fireworks display was rained out. Not this week. So, just before the scheduled starting time of 10:30 p.m., we all trooped through the streets to the rugby pitch on the outskirts of Léran.
Bonne nuit.