I can really see now why French women actually don’t get fat (my eyes tell me this is very true, they are all slim). I’m sure there are several reasons, but at least one of them must be the French obsession with farmers markets, and the absolute expectation of and demand for high quality produce. In this little village of 2,000 people, there are the following farmers markets:
- Thursday morning: a large farmers market in the central square with very advanced vendors, including several cheese vendors, sausage vendors, wine merchants, and fish vendors. When I say “several,” I mean about 3-4 places. The fish vendor literally has 2-3 refrigerated cases of fish, the kind of cases you’d see at a supermarket, not Igloo coolers.
- Thursday evening (summer only): the “gourmet” market. Also in the town square and comprised of some fruit and veg vendors, and many more hot food vendors. That’s where I got the french fries in duck fat. Mmmmm!
- Sunday morning: a small farmers market on the south side of the bastide. Between these vendors and the butcher and local patisserie, you’d have great makings for Sunday dinner and certainly not starve until Thursday came around again.
- And, of course, there is the Casino super-marche just outside the village to tide you over.
Really, it’s amazing. I’ve eaten extremely well this week on our farmers market food and I haven’t even cooked anything, just assembled, which is my favorite kind of cooking/eating, even back home. Meals are like this: sliced melon, a little sausage, cheese, and a simple salad with cukes, tomatoes, and olives. Oh, and, bien sur, a glass of wine (I’m in France, after all).
Speaking of wine, I’ve never seen or tasted such great vino for so cheap. There is just a TON of wine here everywhere you look. The wine section at Casino? Over the top! And at all the farmers markets, there are also local wine vendors, average price 3 euros a bottle. The local wine is cahors, which moi actually doesn’t care much for, unfortunately. A village fried told me to “keep trying!” with it and eventually I’ll acquire the taste. Ha!
If Americans had this easy access to such high quality food twice a week, I’d have a hard time not seeing our obesity problem improving dramatically. And that’s the thing…it IS of a quality that we don’t have in our small towns and many cities, and at very affordable prices (I’m now convinced that “Everything is expensive in Europe” is a complete myth).