Every Tuesday morning, next to the big church in the center of town, there’s an open market. The market happens all year long, rain or shine.
It includes produce vendors, cheesemongers, seafood sellers, butchers, and bakers. There are also booths that sell hot and ready-to-eat food (like a food truck without the truck). And depending on the weather, there’s also a section that sells mattress and trinkets and household goods.
Our rental house is right in the center of town, so the market is only 50 yards or so from our house. I don’t know if our life will ever be more convenient than it is right now.
Would you like a little tour of our market day?
Our friend Sandy, who is from Texas, has lived in Argentan for about ten years, and she offered to take us to the market and introduce us to her favorites vendors. Sandy eats organic (it’s called “bio” here) whenever she can, and has sought out the best organic food producers in the area.
Her favorite cheese vendor sells fresh milk, eggs, butter (sweet or salty), different types of creme fraiche, and of course, a wide variety of cheeses.
There are lots of bakeries in every French town, and they all carry a similar menu of items — like baguettes, croissants, and pain au chocolat (like a croissant with chocolate in side).
But Sandy’s favorite bread maker at the market doesn’t bake the typical French bakery menu. He specializes in dense loaves, and unusual grains. All organic.
Sandy’s favorite fruit and veggie stall is also focused on organic produce and offer a wide variety of whatever is in season — and always as local as possible.
You’ll notice all the shoppers carry a market bag. We’ve concluded ours is not big enough. : ) Would you like to see what we bought?
Two liters of raw milk. And we happen to have an old school milk jug from the last time we lived here (we used buy milk from our neighbor). We found the milk jug in our storage at the cottage and have put it to good use.
You bring your own jar/jug/bottle and then they ladle the milk in from a big container.
Before we put the milk in the fridge, we heat it until it almost scalds.
Then we let it cool, and pour it in a two-liter glass jar for storing in the fridge.
We bought a slice of new-to-us cheese that came highly recommended and has a slight pear taste. It’s really good. Very mild and very delicious. I can’t remember the name.
We bought a walnut loaf. Oh man. It’s so good. Take a slice and warm it up and slather it with butter.
We bought a pumpkin/squash so that we can bake pumpkin cookies. We’ll bake this until it’s soft and then use it instead of the canned stuff (they don’t do canned pumpkin here).
We bought a big slice of Carrouges cheese. It’s made nearby and is excellent. You can get old or young versions — depending on how strong you like your cheese.
We bought a gorgeous cabbage that will be part of our dinner tonight.
We bought a liter of fresh buttermilk. We didn’t bring a container for this, so they ladled it into this bottle. This is actually the first time we’ve bought buttermilk in France! Betty was craving buttermilk pancakes with buttermilk syrup and we realized we had never seen (or maybe just not noticed) buttermilk the stores here.
But Ben Blair asked about it at the cheesemonger and he totally had some!
Hands down the most delicious thing we bought was these orange scones. I can’t even describe how delicious they are. (Though I’m biased — I’ve always loved orange breads and orange rolls.)
The last thing we bought was fresh butter. It’s made in a big loaf (see photo below):
And then they cut a chunk off for you and wrap it up in paper. They hold the knife above the butter loaf and then you indicate if you want a bigger slice or a smaller one.
We put the butter on the warm orange scones and just about fainted because it was too delicious.
And that completes our market day tour. Now it’s your turn. Do you have access to a farmer’s market or open market near you? Or maybe roadside produce stands? Do you go often enough that you’ve found favorite vendors?
Is the idea of a weekly market trip appealing to you? Or does this just seem like one more errand you wouldn’t have time for? I’d love to hear your thoughts.