Category Archives: Markets
Doing the daily shop, French-style.
These aubergines are shinier than a militia man’s boots.
The lobster tank was looking a bit empty. I suspect there’d been a rush on lobster for cooling summer seafood platters.
This little piggy went to market, to hang out next to his brothers who are now a pair of delicious dried sausages. Oink oink.
Black-legged chickens with their heads ON, but running about no more.
Counting the chèvres…
Believe it or not, these rolls are called ‘hams’ of duck breast, and are stuffed with foie gras.
A trio of tapenades and other wicked treats to nibble with one’s apéro.
Legs of ham. With hoof or without?
Mimolette cheese (in case you were wondering). ‘Extra old’ says the label. You bet.
Extra old or prehistoric?
And to finish: Charentais melons in the Charente-Maritime.
Check out the cutest little car in the world: the limited edition Ape (pronounced ah-pay) Calessino, manufactured by the Vespa kings – Piaggio. I’m doing a good job of breaking the tenth commandment this week…
It’s a far cry from the little Ape workhorses to be found chugging along Italy’s country roads or delivering a surfeit of produce to the local market via the narrowest of alleys.
Being Italian, they know how to sell these trusty little beasts of the car world – dressing them up for chic seaside photo shoots.
True Ape-lovers can be quite creative with their decoration:
Sal Machiani, a Tuscan Ape, made his name as an actor in Cars 2:
And now you can even build your own Ape. With LEGO!
This isn’t the only picture I’ve seen of a bride and groom making their getaway in one of these trusty little three-wheelers:
Berwick Street Market’s Pizza Pilgrims cook pizza in theirs:
And they’re not the only ones with such entreprenurial uses for their small vans:
There are so many Ape fans in the world that this selection of ape images only scratches the surface.
Alas, I have nowhere to park my dream Ape Calessino, even if Santa Claus managed to stuff one into my stocking this year and, truth be told, I don’t have stockings quite big enough for that sort of filler. Never mind. Thankfully, I’m content to daydream about my little Ape and what we might get up to together. With such a tiny engine and miniscule speed potential, breaking the sound barrier or filling up my licence with points wouldn’t be our kind of adventure, however filling up the back with a (small) friend, a (small) dog and plenty of everything for a relaxing afternoon in one of London’s parks, just might work. And, just like a cute puppy, a darling Ape like the Calessino is bound to be an ice-breaker, wherever we end up.
Monsieur and I had enjoyed our time in the Funchal fish market, watching the workers carving, stripping and gutting fish of all sizes. We were now curious to see what Madeiran fruit and vegetables were like.
This image may look familiar:
My current header was taken from the above image. Look at the produce – the bright green avocadoes, the perfect artichokes, the rosy apples, fat grapes, stumpy bananas, happy orange mandarins.
Some of these things I’m not sure I can identify - like the squashy-looking green balls next to the courgettes at the bottom of the stall or that prickly green vegetable?/fruit? between the cabbages and the beans. Can you help me, anyone?
On the right hand side, the long green fruit are Banana-Ananaz, or Banana Pineapple. Also known as the Monstera Deliciosa, it has the tropical flavour of banana, pineapple and mango, and grows happily in Madeira’s sub-tropical climate.
This shot’s a bit blurry but the baskets. Oh, the baskets. I do so love wicker baskets. If I lived in Funchal I’d buy one of these and fill it up frequently with fat, red tomatoes, snow-white onions and some of those banana ananaz things. (Apparently they’re good in smoothies.)
The florist stands were dazzling – loaded up with anthuriums, birds of paradise and orchids. I swear I’d never before seen such massive anthuriums, not even in Hawaii - some flowers were the size of dinner plates!
I could have wandered about the market for a long, long time, but it was lunch time and the vendors looked hungry. The stall shutters started coming down, so Monsieur and I took this as a sign to leave in search of our own lunch. That’s the downside of being addicted to markets: they make you hungry.
I admit it: I have an OCD. Wherever in the world I am, I MUST visit a market, or at worst, food hall. I even like foreign supermarkets. And UK supermarkets. I can wax lyrical about my fascination with the way supermarkets adapt their merchandise to the ethnic mix of the local community. But I digress. Here is yet another Epicurienne take on a market. For this episode of ‘Market OCD’ we’ll travel to Funchal on the Atlantic island of Madeira.
Monsieur and I were fresh off the plane from Lisbon when we found Funchal Market. It was lunchtime so activity, which had started at daybreak, was starting to wind down, but the fish market was still quite busy. Most of the marble preparation areas were loaded up with long, black, headless fish that looked a bit like eels. I later found out their name: scabbard fish.
Known as Peixe Espada Preta, this is a popular fish in Portugal, known for a mild flavour which allows it to be prepared in hundreds of different ways. Their heads are the stuff of horror films, though:
On a different counter sat limpets. I’ve never eaten them before but they’re supposed to be delicious. Limpets make me nostalgic for childhood visits to the beach, sticking our fingers into anemones in rock pools, teasing hermit crabs and trying to pull limpets off the rocks. Now I just want to eat one!
The tuna counter was a reminder of how big tuna can grow. This is just a small part of one:
The tuna man’s biceps must get their work out from hulking huge hunks of tuna about and carving them with a knife that looks disturbingly like a machete.
Elsewhere, the scabbard fish are stripped down.
The sardine man removes tiny sardine entrails as he waits for a customer.
A buyer gets tips on how to prepare salt cod.
perhaps with some of the cod man’s homemade herb-alicious marinade?
Nothing this vendor says or does can make his buyers crack a smile. Poor chap. They look like hard work.
Before we leave, I’m tempted to weigh myself on the fish scales (not the shiny-on-the-skin fishy variety):
but Monsieur says “No.”
So we go next door to the fresh produce market, instead, and my market OCD is cured, for today.