Farmer’s markets are a community staple and in the last 30 years they have popped up in every community, large or small, sometimes more than once a week; and while the intent always is to give access to locally-sourced food and flowers of the season, in some places they have become a real stamp of endorsement for artisanal and organic products, small-batch preserves and honey, along with accoutrements for the home such as candles, hand-made linens, vinegars & oils, and even pastries and confections.
Three years ago, on a weekend trip to the Bodensee with friends, we stumbled-upon a French market that where artisans and merchants provided un goût français. It took us a some perusing and a bit of hunger for me to realize that we had right there all the makings of a great market-picnic spread of charcuterie, cheeses, baguette and wines.
That first French market has given me great inspiration for my dinner parties in subsequent years, so it was with great enthusiasm that I entered the Saturday market area in Toucy.
In addition to the produce, meats, cheeses and baked goods one would normally expect to find, there also were (shockingly) things like live chickens, rabbits and goats, mattresses, books and patio furniture. I guess when you live in a country village some of these things are not so easy to access, so on those occasions when merchants come to town, one is especially lucky.
And better yet…things that are already prepared like gougères–choux pastry dough mixed with cheese and friend–and chicken fresh from the rotisserie.
Our mission this Saturday: collect ingredients for the meal that we will prepare for our hosts tomorrow. This means fresh eggs, haricots verts, red potatoes and olives for an almost-niçoise salad (sans tuna), PLUS a freshly-plucked chicken (seriously–killed this morning) to marinate in lemon, tarragon, honey & olive oil for grilling tomorrow.
And other little treats along the way? Duck pâté and pork terrine…a little something to tuck away for our first-night celebration in Florence next weekend.