You had to know that I would need to wax poetic about this market right away ... and, I promised my wonderful new friend Germaine that I was going to do just that. This will actually be one of several stories, and some will include a recipe.
Years ago, Antoine took me to The Aligre Market in Paris (where Lydie and I went recently; see my post about Sacred Sunday). On that trip, I was staying in a hotel and couldn’t buy any (fantastic, gorgeous, irresistible) groceries to cook with, and that was really frustrating! We only bought some fresh strawberries, which we had to give up at Le Parc de Prince when we arrived for the afternoon PSG-Nantes football match. Fine.
I swore I’d never come to Paris again, without having a kitchen in which to cook. (And, I would finish all the strawberries before a football match, too.) Now that same feeling goes for all stays in France, including this one at La Rochelle.
Le Marche here in town, for me, is like being in a sweet dream! It is a giant food hall of sorts, open 6 days from 8am-1pm, and Fridays it is open into the evening. On Wednesdays and Saturdays especially, there are outdoor merchants surrounding the market up and down all blocks, selling more fresh items, prepared foods, also clothing, jewelry, and various curios.
One entire aisle of merchants is seafood. I immediately made friends with Chrystal, who is from Andalusia (Spain) and has a fantastic fresh fish counter. Her heritage is also Italian. I speak some Italian and Spanish, and now, a little French. Could I possibly use any of those well to converse fluently with her? I could not and in fact, between all of the above and her bits of English, we have managed quite well.
Her fresh tuna is amazing and the poke’, for which she offers diced melon, cucumber, and tomato for mix-ins, is sublime! Her tuna salad with mayo is also some of the best ever! The other day, a gentleman was there offering smoked fish varieties and oooooh, the swordfish was off-the-charts delicious! For us turf fans, lots of splendid meat counters are there as well.
There is an olives and epices (spices) counter where I was happy to find cinnamon sticks (batons). I’ll need them for my ginger-cinnamon syrup, which is a refrigerator staple and a recipe I’ll be sharing soon.
There are of course, spectacular cheese counters, pastries and sweets, and bread makers – more of my favorite personal food groups!
One rotisserie counter and very handsome merchant ;) has one of the best roast chickens I’ve ever had; I of course needed this right away. He also has grilled sausages, which went straight into the Market Pasta recipe that I’m going to share. For that recipe, I was flippin’ overjoyed to buy extremely well-priced fresh egg pasta, at the counter not far from the rotisserie.
Germaine’s outdoor stall is where I buy my produce, and those treasures have very much inspired the rest of my pasta dish.
Now I invite you to go to my next story, which is the recipe for my delicious Market Pasta!