30 May 2008

Market Day

I took the children to Les Halles, the covered market, today. Friday morning seems a good time to go, as not only are all the stands open within, the building is surrounded on all sides with stands selling fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers for wonderful prices. Inside, you’ll find butchers, fishmongers, and cheesemakers, and a nice little Oriental grocer who sells all the little obscure sauces, powders, and noodles impossible to find in regular grocery stores.

Interior of Les Halles, on a day less busy. Built in 1886 by the same man who built the Eiffel Tower, it’s a bustling market center four mornings a week. All around Les Halles, you’ll find flea market booths selling clothes, linens, antiques, and books.

A nearby stand sells olives of all sorts, dried fruit, biscuits, cheese, beer, and jam.

Dijon being Dijon, you’ll find every variation of Dijon mustard under the sun (except American, of course). Dijon mustard is made with black mustard seeds. The crushed seeds are soaked and fermented in a liquid (depending on the type of mustard, it may bed vinegar, white wine, or verjuice grape, a grape that never reaches maturity, retaining a degree of acidity that lends to mustard’s piquancy). After exposure to an enzyme (mryosynase), an essential oil is procured that gives mustard its piquant flavor. It was Jean Naigeon, a Dijonnais, who in 1752 substituted verjuice grape with vinegar in which to ferment the mustard seeds, and thus was born world-renowned Dijon mustard.

Du pain! Undoubtedly a staple I will miss on our return Stateside…

Saucisson sec. I adore a good smoked sausage—not the pasty Pepperidge Farm summer sausage logs, but a chewy, dark rosette, or a sweet and spicy chorizo. In the states, a log can cost an arm and a leg, but here you can get them for a pittance, and in so many varieties it’s hard to choose.

A honey stand, selling every sort of honey and beeswax candles.

Biscuiterie & Confiserie. The one candy stand in Les Halles; I can’t imagine anything more fun than making and selling candy for a living.

Dried fish, olives, and wine.

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