For all the time we’ve spent in the Dordogne, I’m not sure I’d ever heard of a “night market” until one of my readers asked me about them in June. Where were they? What nights were they held?
At first blush, they didn’t sound too sensible to me. Why go shopping for fruit, veggies and so on at night, when you could go to a morning market during daylight hours?
To be helpful to my loyal reader, I did some research and discovered that — not surprisingly — night markets are markets held at night. So I supplied her with some basic information, including the fact that a night market is held regularly in the hamlet of Bouzic, a fairly short drive from Daglan. Still, I wasn’t entirely clear about their purpose.
Funnily enough, later in the summer, one of our friends invited us to the Bouzic night market, where we learned that the emphasis is more on having an informal dinner than on shopping. There were six of us at our table, among several hundred people in a field (I’m estimating), and we had a great time. We also learned that you’re supposed to take your own plates and cutlery, because the food you buy is usually sold in plastic tubs or equivalent.
Then last night, my wife Jan and I ventured off on our own to St. Pompon’s last Marché Gourmand Nocturne of the 2012 season. Since St. Pompon is only a five-minute drive from Daglan, we left home around 7 p.m. and were at the market while it was still light.
Here’s the sign just outside the village, announcing the market. It says that the markets are held “Every Saturday evening from June 23 to Sept. 1,” so it’s really not a long season.
We parked just inside the village, and walked towards the activity. And here’s what we saw as we reached the centre of the village — a line of food stalls stretching along the street, ending at the Mairie (the Mayor’s office):
As we were driving out of Daglan, we stopped the car to chat with one of our friends who was walking home after picking blackberries. When we told her that we were off to the St. Pompon night market for the first time, she told us we’d enjoy it — “it’s very champêtre,” she said, meaning “rural” or “rustic.” And that’s exactly what it is.
There is a real mix of cuisines, but everything is informal and friendly (and inexpensive). For instance, here’s a stall serving a variety of curries:
Another stall was serving up a variety of grilled meats, including these hunks of chicken:
There were lots of other choices, including hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages, couscous, tajines, and Vietnamese cuisine. (Plus a few stalls selling traditional market goodies, like fresh fruit.)
After wandering around for a while, we settled on a stall that was selling a nice combination of goodies — fresh oysters and wine. We settled down with half a dozen oysters (delicious and briny) each, plus a plastic cup of drinkable rosé wine. Then I bought some frites (French fries) to munch with the oysters as well as our next course. Since we were near the area for dancing later on, we got to enjoy the sound system with such traditional French classics as the theme from Ghostbusters. So there’s the start of our dinner:
Last but not least, we shared a plastic barquette of mussels — loaded with garlic and parsley, and just delicious. Here they are:
That wasn’t quite the end of it, however. I did buy a nice square piece of plum tart, but I don’t have a picture to share. It looked so good that I had scarfed it down before I remembered that I had wanted a photo for this blog. Now you’ll just have to wait until the next night market, next year.