As you can imagine, the French go all out for their holiday meals. Christmas and New Year bring out the best. There are any number of foods that might grace a French family's table at December's end. Smoked salmon. Caviar. Lobster. But you can be almost certain of three things. There will be oysters. Supermarkets feature displays of oysters packed in special little wooden crates for a couple of weeks leading up to the holidays. There will be a bird - goose, duck, capon, pintade (guinea-fowl), even turkey. And there will be foie gras. And if you want your bird and your foie gras to come fresh from the producer, you go to a foie marché.
Our favorite foie marché is in the rural village of Rieux-Minervois, about a half-hour drive to the west and north of us. In the big, drafty salle polyvalente (village hall or community room), folks shop shoulder to shoulder for their favorite holiday comestibles, in particular their foie gras in all of its incarnations - raw and uncooked, ready to slice and serve, stuffed into smoked duck breasts. For those of us who enjoy foie gras, it's a heady experience.
And since these are poultry farmers meeting their public at the height of their season, every conceivable poultry product is on display. You can not only buy the whole, fresh bird. You can buy all of its parts - necks, breasts, legs and thighs, carcasses for stock, fat trimmings for rendering or for making cracklings called fritons. And there are the variations - smoked, dried, confit.
Of course, since it's a French market, there's other stuff to buy. Cheese. Sausages and smoked meats. Olives. Baked goods including spiced bread for the holidays.
So, enjoy the pics. And check out my blog page about French life HERE. I notice that the last several posts there have been about our walks around the village. Keep scrolling down for info on healthcare, car repairs, and the like.
|We start with a picture of cheese to prepare the faint of heart for what is to come.|
|For the first time, we found stands set up outside the hall.|
|Packed. From the way that some stands looked, there had already been lots of shopping by 10:30 when we arrived.|
|The French call then macarons, not macaroons. Meringue-based, sugary, with almond flavoring, and colorful.|
|The French do duck in all of its configurations|
|ALL of its configurations...|
|Christmas geese. Already picked over.|
|The French are particular about lots of things, including beans.|
|Olives. Of course.|
|Charcuterie. Of course.|
|Duck fat. Of course?|
|Carcasses for stock.|
|Lots of carcasses.|
|And oysters to eat starting at 9:00am. Because, France.|