I’ve always enjoyed walking through local markets in Europe to look at all the fresh vegetables, cheeses, fish, meats. Somehow, the larger ones seem to be a study in chaos. With my basic French and inability to comprehend most Parisians (they talk fast!), I found it intimidating to be a participant. Do I pick the vegetables? What if I ask the wrong amount and end up spending a fortune? What are those things? So until now, I’ve only observed the chaos from a distance. Sunday, I decided to give it a try.
The Marché Richard Lenoir is the biggest market in Paris. So if I’m going to dig in, might as well be the biggest. The market is pretty crowded and some people don’t feel their carts are in anyone’s way in the tight walkways between the rows of stalls. But everything looks amazing, the produce, fresh fish, even wine.
I see ripe avocados and the sign says 3 for a euro. Perfect. Except the guy kept saying “quatre” (four). I replied back with “trios” (three). He was trying to tell me that they were now four for a euro, finally telling me in English. He picked them out and so far, only a euro spent. Nothing outrageous. I stopped at the next produce stall and bought some more vegetables.
Feeling a little more brave, I went to a cheese merchant. I had no ideas what all the cheeses were so I chickened out a little and bought one of the pre-cut packages with the price already marked (no mistakes that way!).
Lastly, I was determined to purchase some salmon. A found a fishmonger with some precut filets and bought one of them. Perfect in color and so fresh. I better stop here, I thought, as my first time had been a success. I had broken my European farmer’s market cherry. Little did I know at the time that this would be the last fish purchase. My apartment is about 150 square feet and let’s just say that cooking fish in that small a space in an oven with no ventilation does not leave a pleasant lingering odor. However, the fish was great!