coquilles Saint-Jacques, Food, France, holly, Market, mistletoe, Normandy, oysters, wild mushrooms
What comes to a local market in the dead of winter? Very little, you would think – the fields are empty, the trees are bare, there’s nothing but rain and a dull grey sky. You’d be surprised. Here are some of the delights we found at our Norman market at the end of December.
Boxes and boxes of the freshest oysters, only a squirt of lemon needed.
Holly and mistletoe grow everywhere in Normandy. Look up any old tree in the winter and what looks like a messy kind of birds nest is probably mistletoe. And there is a whole forest of holly, la Forêt d’Eu, in the Seine-Maritime. But if you don’t have time to collect your own, you can buy some at market.
I think these are guinea fowl but please tell me if I’m wrong. There were plenty of geese and roosters too. No one looked squeamish about buying fowl with the head and feet still on. Even in the supermarket, the packaged free range chickens have more feathers and blood left on than their sterile UK counterparts.
The pretty coquilles Saint-Jacques are a Normandy specialty which have been awarded the prestigious “label rouge” in recognition of their quality. (Does everything in France have a label?) Here is a video about the fishermen who catch them, and a recipe which, like all the best Norman recipes, is packed with wild (if you can get them) mushrooms and crème fraîche.
The candied fruit sparkled like cheap jewelry under the fluorescent lights of the market stalls. It seemed that every imaginable fruit – and even vegetable – had been candied. Pears, mango, carrots, tomatoes, kiwi, pineapple, peaches, cherries, lemons, clementines, figs and more. No gallon tins of chocolates needed here to keep spirits up in the dead of winter.
And then a hint of the season to follow. All these bright bulbs poking out of the soil, promising even better come springtime.
Hilary Gardner said:
I loved reading this! You seem to be amidst a great adventure in a truly beautiful place. I’m about to take my first trip to France on a belated honeymoon with my husband…any recommendations for Paris restaurants are welcomed! (-:
Here is another excellent blog about where to eat in Paris: http://parisbymouth.com/our-guide-to-paris/
Thanks! Have a wonderful time in Paris. I am not an expert on Paris restaurants though I hope to be one day! Here is a great site for restaurants and interesting things do in Paris http://hipparis.com/
I would love to visit this market! Beautiful photos.
Mmmm the things I could make with that road runner chicken.
Marie "Z" Johnston said:
Very nice blog… thanks for reaching out!
Would love to come visit in the Spring.
Oh YUM — the fruits (especially the figs) had me salivating. I’m not much for oysters, though they did look nice. Sounds like you are thoroughly enjoying the entire experience.
Ginia Hickley said:
I spent a fortune buying glace fruits as a Christmas present for my father and father-in-law at Fortnums. I got greengages and strawberries as well as oranges and lemons. (The choice was similar but the prices higher). It amused me when the cashier told me it was the best way to get my “five a day”!!!
Gail Viechnicki said:
Was I the only one to think that the chickens looked like naked sort of saggy old women wearing suspenders? 🙂
Wonderful photos, as always!
Yes! You should see the pictures of the geese which I didn’t post — too weird.
You make it look really good, I like the Scallops best, excellent blog. I am trying to do something similar for Poitou-Charentes.
I have a load of market photos taken in Hanoi, there you get some really bizzare food …. well they eat it.
My blogg is http://poitoucharentesinphotos.wordpress.com
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