On a lovely Saturday morning, my French friends invited me to join them for one of their regular visits to La Cabane, where we could buy fresh produce.
The stand is located on a farm about five miles from where I live. I was delighted to go because shopping for locally produced fruits and vegetables on Saturday morning seems to be something of an institution here.
A meat truck was parked in the lot in front of La Cabane. I studied the meat but didn’t know Attenderella’s food plan for the week. Consequently, I limited myself to checking out the different cuts and their prices for my next visit.
All the meat came from nearby farms and looked extremely fresh. Nothing was packaged. If a customer wanted a rib roast, the butcher cut the number of ribs the customer requested. (Next time, I’ll get my marching orders from Attenderella so I know what to buy.)
When we stepped inside La Cabane, we noticed how vivid the colors and textures of the various fruits and vegetables were. The stand was much larger than a typical stand in the US. The produce, all of which is grown on the owner’s farm or nearby farms, looked as if it had been picked that morning.
Some of the vegetables, such as the oblong white turnips that were slightly larger than Idaho potatoes, were new to me. Yellow and black turnips were also novel.
Since moving to France, I’ve learned to buy an entire head of leaf lettuce, soak it in water, spin it dry, and bag it for use during the week. (No one buys prewashed lettuce in a plastic bag!) The lettuce heads are huge!
The tomatoes came in all shapes and sizes, from small grape-like tomatoes to giant red or pink tomatoes that must weigh a kilo or more.
No market would be complete without a section of beers (including organic beer), wines (rosé and red), and ciders. I bought a bottle of sparkling apple cider to share with friends and two bottles of rosé wine to fill my kitchen wine display.
When we checked out at the end of our shopping, we met the owner and manager, Denys Giner, and learned her family has been producing fruits and vegetables for four generations. She insisted I join her behind the checkout counter to have our picture taken. In return, I promised I’d send her a link to this post.
I have yet to prepare and eat all the produce I bought. I’ve made a good start on the pears, though, now that the delicious peaches are finished for the season. The pears are incredibly good; they melt in my mouth.
I’ve also made butternut squash soup, which was a hit with the family. Next up on the menu is French onion soup and then perhaps I’ll bake an apple pie.
I love to cook. Now I also love to shop for my fruits and vegetables. The experience of buying locally produced food makes the experience of preparing and enjoying meals that much richer.
Dorothy Draper, the founder of the profession of interior design in the US, is quoted as saying that eating is an indoor sport we engage in three times a day, and we should make the game “as pleasant as possible.”
My experience living in France makes me think the French have elevated the indoor sport of eating to the Olympic level!