Over many years in Provence, I have spent my fair share of time at the markets. These are a Provençal staple, an essential part of the fabric of life and something worth seeing. Every person who comes begs to go to market. The colours, the smells, the people, it’s understandable.
Being an introvert, large crowds stress me out. As does lollygagging, standing in line and 20 minutes to buy a peach, egg, cheese, saucisson etc. So, as time has passed, I’ve learned to “market” hyper-efficiently. I am in by 9 am and out by 9:15. If I can help it. I go straight to the producers I want to see and get the heck out. No stopping for coffee or milling about. For me, the thrill of it is mostly gone. But not the thrill of finding delicious produce or local products. The hunt has gone beyond the weekly markets to what I consider far more delightful options.
Like the guy with the peaches that parks in the cemetery. That’s fun, isn’t it? Or my local farmers down the road who open three evenings a week for two hours only to sell what they picked. Or the guy at the Crestet round-about that has spectacular strawberries. And of course, my new favourite for the last couple years: the Aubignan side-of-the-road-with-no-real-parking-farmer. His tomatoes, melons and well, just about everything are out of this world.
We’ve already sorted out the best bread in the area, and few favourite patisseries. Now that we have cheese, wine, fruit and veg covered, all we need is a butcher we can count on who hopefully does excellent rotisserie chicken, regularly. Then we’d never need to market again. For me, that could be quite nice for a little while at least.