Lessons from the market

There are many lessons to be learned by shopping in the markets that spring up each week around here — in Daglan, Cénac, Sarlat, and many other villages. For example, you begin to learn that there are a number of varieties of fruits and vegetables on offer, so you start experimenting: What carrot do I like best? What strawberry?

But the biggest lesson is to learn to roll with the punches. Just when we’re sure that we can count on the duck man in Tuesday’s Cénac market to have duck carcasses for making soup, he will run out. When our friend Irena was here last week and wanted to buy wild boar sausage in Daglan’s Sunday market, the sausage-and-cheese man never showed up. And this morning, when I was keen to buy fresh spinach to accompany the leg of lamb I’m roasting for lunch, there was no spinach. No green beans. No brussel sprouts. Nothing green, in fact, to be cooked.

So instead we’ll be having a tossed salad with our lamb and whipped potatoes (the lettuce I chose is a Batavia type, a “loose-heading” variety, in case you’re interested).

On the plus side, the young man who sells strawberries had three varieties on offer. I chose the mara des bois, one of our favourites. It’s been described as having “an alpine taste” (not sure about that one) and as a “small, wildly aromatic” variety. Naturally I tried one when I returned home, just to be on the safe side. I would describe it as “very, very juicy and yummy.” Thus endeth the lesson.

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