I made my weekly run to the market yesterday. I bought bread made with an antique variety of wheat (with a lower gluten content and kinder to my tummy) from a young woman whose father, I believe, comes from Paris and whose mother hails from Russia. I bought a small tub of marinated olives and peppers from a man who comes from Marseille and is patient with my dusty high school French. The tomatoes just might end up in a tarte, made with a pastry crust (spelt or gluten-free) and some goat cheese.
Kind of like the one I had when I went to the cooking class in France some years ago. We cooked and lived a la Francaise for an incredible week.
It’s going to be a while before I get back, but in the meantime, small everyday practices keep me connected:
- Flowers. I need flowers on my table. Nothing huge, but a $3.99 bunch from Trader Joe’s or the market can last for up to two weeks and go a long way.
- Whether I’m getting produce from the market or the store, I select very carefully. I engage in conversation with the seller about the food, where it came from, chat about recipes, that sort of thing.
- Making meals a little ceremonial. Having one without interference from the TV at least once a day, sitting at the table, and serving the salad as a first course, minor things to shift the focus.
- Focusing on the food. Ok, I have been known to read while eating if I’m dining solo. I do sometimes eat in front of the tube. But I try not to very often. Well, more often than I want to admit.
- Small touches, even with what seems like minor details, enhance the dining experience. Have you tried tuna and egg sandwiches? Most memorable meal for me was sitting on a bench eating one while watching motor scooters zip around the old quarter of Roanne (it’s near Lyon). Can of drained tuna, chopped celery and onion, two chopped hardboiled eggs, enough mayo to make it hold together. I had it on a sandwich roll, but it would be great on whole wheat with lettuce and tomato. Perfect when you are getting the first draft of a novel started.
The market I frequent may be in an asphalt parking lot surrounded by small stores, railroad tracks, and early to mid-20th century homes instead of being framed by medieval church spires and supported by cobblestones. Its spirit and intent are the same. And that is where I find my small slivers of France.