Paris Farmers Market Update
Yes, you read that right! Today’s Farmers Market Update is straight from the streets of Paris by the lovely Joanna Milo Ragland (@GirlAboutParis). Joanna is a California resident but has been living in Paris for the past several months, getting to know the local markets and vendors.
I love these guest posts from shoppers in other cities and am thinking about making this a monthly event. What do you think?
Farmers Market Update: Paris In Autumn
by Joanna Milo Ragland
The many Paris markets range from tiny and touristy to huge and mostly local. Each neighborhood has its own market, some of the once or twice weekly roving variey, others in stable locations open Tuesday through Sunday.
The largest of the roving local markets is the Marché de Bastille. Spanning several long blocks of boulevard Richard Lenoi along the Canal St. Martin, the Bastille market offers rows upon rows of the freshest, most colorful produce. The generally jovial vendors are all too happy to offer samples of their wares.
Near the 1pm market closing time, wheeling and dealing becomes de rigeur and a friendly smile might just fetch you a couple extra clementines in your shopping bag.
As in San Francisco, the late summer produce is on its way out, but peppers, eggplant, and figs are still widely available. Prickly Italian figs (also known as figues de barbarie and more reminiscent of cactus than figs), persimmons (here called kaki), and grapes in abundance can be found at just about every fruit stand.
The prickley Italian figues de barbarie has a green skin that becomes orange as it ripens and a bright orange flesh. Delicious as this strange little fruit is, I found it nearly impossible to eat, as it’s full of small, hard seeds that permeate the entirety of the soft flesh. Am I missing something?
Figuier de Barbarie
(Note from Darya: Figuier de barbarie (English translation) are actually cactus fruit, or prickly pear. You’ll have to ask a Frenchman why they call them figs….)
I also spotted some huge persimmons with a lovely, deep red-orange color. (I’m a little afraid of persimmons, though they are delicious.)
Parsnips, Broccoli, Artichoke and Endive
Persimmons, Chestnuts and Berries
Adding to the orange-colored fruit party, the clementines here are already awesome; easy to peel, not too many seeds, sweet and just tart enough to be thirst-quenching…the perfect snack to take along on a day of Paris sightseeing.
The lemons are also great and I’ve been stocking up and using them in my morning tea.
Vendor With Chestnuts
A chatty, Tunisian vendor offered me a sample of some yellow-green Italian grapes. Though they did have some seeds, they were plump, juicy and bursting with grap-ey deliciousness. He also explained to me that Italian fruit is far superior to Spanish fruit and that pesticides are not as widely used in Italy, rendering the grapes safe to eat unwashed–not the case with grapes from Spain, I was sternly told. (LOL)
Pink pomagranates have also appeared in the last week or two and are bursting with sweet-tart antioxidant goodness, although I still find red poms to be juicier and more flavorful.
What's wrong with this picture?
Also noteworthy are the many varieties of apples. I had the opportunity to sample the honey crunch apple, one I hadn’t previously heard of, and it was true to it’s name. Firm, sweet, delicious, with that great apple bite! The honey crunch would be a perfect apple to use for a tarte tatin!
At the veggie stands, huge leeks, radishes, and many onion varieties are beautiful, aromatic, and begging to be used in your soups, stirfrys and tagines. Kale and swiss chard are also starting to show up, though just at a few of the stands.
Oh, and mushrooms!! Can’t have a Paris market update without discussing the mushrooms. It’s porcini (cêpes) season and they are as beautiful as they are earthily fragrant. Prices can range dramatically based on the location of the market and the quality of the mushrooms, so do be sure to shop around. During the late summer and early fall, it was all about yellow (and sometimes black) oyster mushrooms, but now, porcinis rule. Their meaty texture and hearty, earthy flavor make them amazing in soups, stews, pasta dishes, risotto, or grilled and served up on bruschetta. The porcini possibilities are endless, but the season is short so I’m enjoying them as much as possible while I can.
Paris Fish Monger
Of course, the Paris markets have much more to offer than just fruits and veggies. Amazing seafood, cheeses, breads, sweets…it’s difficult to pass by all the beautifully displayed, wonderful smelling artisinal foods without going a bit crazy and putting a dent in your budget, not to mention your calorie-count. Not that you should count calories, especially when in Paris. Head to the markets, take in the sights, smells and flavors, and most importantly, enjoy!!
Fresh Scallops and Sea Urchin
A bientôt et bisous de Paris!