Monday, August 27, 2007

Market Day

It was market day today. We are lucky enough to have three market days a week…..Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. All in different towns and all about the same distance from our village.
The Thursday one is a slightly smarter, less rural affair than the other two. The clothes stalls are more expensive, for a start. Not as trendy, but the sensible skirts and ‘Aunt Maud’ twin sets are probably all made in the EU. As opposed to the younger, flashier stuff on the Monday market which has almost certainly arrived in a huge container ship from the Far East.
So on the Monday market you can buy cheap stuff at cheap prices, and look pretty cheap in it .
Today was even more cut-price as we’re nearing the end of the season. The lowest price I saw for a pair of shorts was €3. Tee shirts were going for €2.
There was a whole stall selling Che Guevara tee shirts. Dear old Che….. the face that launched a thousand business opportunities.. Think of all the royalties he could be clawing in if he hadn’t been killed. But after all this time even if he had lived no-one would be in the least interested in a geriatric guerrilla. No, dying when he did, as with Elvis Presley, was a brilliant career move.
There was a stall selling a nice line in big girl’s bras and knickers. A complete ensemble for €8 in garish shades from sizzling orange to passionate purple. I would have bought a set but they were all too large (I lie!)
It was a hot as hell on the market today. The indoor market (which is actually a covered car park for the rest of the week) was even more crowded and pungent than usual. Live fur and fowl, raw meat and sweaty bodies aren’t exactly a happy mix.
I scurried past the ‘bucherie de cheval’. After all this time in France I’m still terribly English and ‘woosie’ when it comes to horsemeat. I was relieved to see there weren’t many live chickens and ducks being sold in this heat. I never like to see their sad faces as they perch uncomfortably on long wooden benches waiting for someone to buy them. They always remind me of village ‘wallflowers’ at a weekly ‘hop’ in the ‘50’s. Desperately hoping someone will ask them for a dance. But the poor old chucks will be bound for the oven, not the dance floor.
A small boy was cuddling a baby rabbit that his father had just bought. I hope he was going as a pet, not a future casserole of ‘lapin aux pruneaux.’
I’m not a tree hugging veggie, but there’s part of me that doesn’t actually want to look my dinner in the eye. It’s sheer cowardice, I know.
After the claustrophobia of the indoor market I was pleased to be out in the fresh air. The aroma had changed for the better too. Freshly roast coffee, peaches, melons and bread baked in wood-fired ovens.
I bought some ‘jardin’ tomatoes and two melons from a local producer. That was all he sold. I’m very ‘anti’ food that has travelled hundreds of miles to reach the customer. The melons and tomatoes had only come from the Gers…..our neighbouring department, no more than 30 km away.
I bought a locally grown lettuce and some cheese, and that was it. The cheese was produced in the mountain pastures by sheep that are born and die in the Haute Pyrenees, or the Pyrenees Atlantique.
So my carbon footprint was very small today. I felt very civically responsible …saintly almost !At the end of the week the great homeward trek begins. The schools open again at the beginning of September, so the market should be a little less crowded next Monday. And in three or four weeks it will be back to normal. Ho

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