From the Sunday market to the plate

In the Greater Daglan Area, not every day involves dining out. Often we prepare our own meals, and often we base our meals on what’s available in the local markets. Since today was Sunday, that meant that it was market day in Saint-Cyprien, so off we went for a look.

Saint-Cyprien is a nice-sized medieval town about 25 kilometres north and west of Daglan, on the north side of the Dordogne River, due west of Beynac. Its market is large and varied, and is easily one of the best weekly markets in the Périgord Noir, second only to Sarlat’s market on Saturdays.

Most of the market is set up in rows of stalls, along the town’s main street. From the photo below, you can see market stalls stretching into the distance, literally to the end of the town. Every now and then, the market extends into open spaces lying off the main street.

The market extends through the village, to the very end.

The market extends through the village, to the very end.

When I describe the market as “varied,” that’s exactly what I mean. Not only are there stalls selling all the usual foods — vegetables, meats, seafood and so on — but there’s also clothing, belts, hats, shoes and more on offer.

Here is one of the classics: A large stall selling a huge variety of French cheeses.

It wouldn't be a French market without a lot -- I mean a lot -- of cheese.

It wouldn’t be a French market without a lot — I mean a lot — of cheese.

And here’s a stall selling inexpensive men’s and women’s shoes, sandals and slippers:

Shoes and slippers at the St. Cyprien market.

Shoes and slippers at the St. Cyprien market.

Then there’s the fresh-baked bread, like these loafs:

Care for a loaf of bread? Half a loaf?

Care for a loaf of bread? Half a loaf?

And since it’s now spring in the GDA (although this morning was grey and a bit chilly), there are lots of plants, flowers and herbs on offer. (We bought a couple of coriander plants to be raised in a pot, as fresh coriander is notoriously hard to find in supermarkets here.)

If it's springtime, there must be flowers in the market.

If it’s springtime, there must be flowers in the market.

Lots of the produce now available has been grown fairly locally, although there are some products being sold despite being out of season, like the melons now available from Morocco. (We’re waiting for the melon season in the Lot to arrive, later in the summer.) Here’s one example of the many vegetable stalls in Saint-Cyprien each Sunday:

One of the many vegetable stalls -- some huge, some small.

One of the many vegetable stalls — some huge, some small.

For us, the seafood stall is one of the best, since both my wife Jan and I love fish and other goodies from the sea. Here’s a view of what’s available:

The seafood stall is one of our favourites.

The seafood stall is one of our favourites.

Finally we homed in on dos de cabillaud, or “back of cod,” which is a popular cut of the salt water fish. (If you see cabillaud on a menu, the restaurant is serving fresh cod; if they use the word morue, they’re referring to salt cod. So brandade de morue is a creamy dish of seasoned, mashed salt cod and olive oil, often including mashed potatoes.) That’s the dos de cabillaud in the centre-left of this photo, from which the fishmonger cut two portions for our lunch.

We bought two serving-size pieces of cod.

We bought two serving-size pieces of cod.

Back home, Jan started in on lunch. She steamed the fresh spinach we had bought in the market; sautéed the cod in a pan with a bit of butter and lemon juice; and fried cubes of par-boiled potatoes in duck fat. With the cod she served a sauce she had made of crème fraîche and some fresh dill she had bought in Saint-Cyprien this morning. Here’s my plate:

Our Sunday lunch.

Our Sunday lunch.

Finally, for dessert we had a bowl of Charlotte strawberries (deliciously sweet) with a touch of Grand Marnier and a very large touch of whipped cream, like this:

Charlotte strawberries, Grand Marnier, and whipped cream.

Charlotte strawberries, Grand Marnier, and whipped cream.

But you shouldn’t leave this edition of Radio Free Daglan thinking that everything at a French market is wonderful. As I was walking out of the market, I stopped to buy a pain au raisins at a bakery stall, to munch as a mid-morning treat. Normally, raisin buns make a nice breakfast as they are soft, sweet and full of juicy raisins. This version was tough, with very few raisins; the pastry itself seemed more like a bread dough than a pastry dough; and the bun wasn’t sweet at all. In fact, it had a lingering taste of garlic.

You may be wondering if I actually managed to eat the whole thing, or if I pitched it out. Well, let’s just say I believe in the old maxim, “Waste not, want not.”

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This entry was posted in Flora and fauna, French food, Life in southwest France, Markets in France, Tourist attractions, Weather in the Dordogne and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to From the Sunday market to the plate

  1. Doug Curson says:

    After reading about those great dishes you have been enjoying recently with your visitors, it’s good to see you settle down to some home cooking!! Please describe more of your recipes. The smoked salmon and egg was delicious.
    Pity about the pain-au-raisin!

  2. Double D's says:

    There is a current commercial running for Boston Pizza that talks about the disappointment man has experienced with food over the years. Their solution is essentially a bacon cheese burger wrapped in a pepperoni pizza..”Don’t be disappointed” the ad announces. So when the GDA finally gets a BP franchise be sure to order one or two. Of course I mention this due to the disappointing pain-au-rasin and I couldn’t help thinking how the bread pictured in the photo would make an excellent humungous cheeseburger bun.

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