(EDIT NOTE: My apology for the incorrect link to the website for HAU. I have revised the link and it should work if you scroll back up to the last paragraph on the last blog or you can try it here: http://whmathau.com )
Every Thursday morning just behind the apartment building we live in is Albertville’s Thursday Market. Every French town has it’s weekly market by tradition. Albertville’s is on Thursday. Annecy, an hour away from us, has theirs on Wednesday. We have learned that many of the vendors are just mobile grocers, working out of a fleet of trucks over an area rather than local venders selling local produce. But there are local venders as well and the produce is very fresh.
One of our field trips last spring was to the “marché”, with the assignment to bring back to class something new that you’d not seen or eaten before. There are many of the usual fruits and vegetables of the season (at that time it was strawberries, cherries and melons). Now we are seeing many grapes, melons, apples and pears. So, in some ways the assignment proved difficult for the Americans but easier for the two Korean classmates who found many different fruits. There were also lots of flowers and herbs for sale as the warm weather was beginning.
Along with fresh eggs, local cheeses and sausages there are the more unusual items as well, such as the live animals: chicks, chickens, rabbits and a few other small fowl for consumption.
But if you really don’t want to go to all the trouble of de-feathering a chicken you can buy one already cooked from the rotisserie truck. They are delicious!
We generally try to buy our produce on Thursdays from the market, which has had not only it’s challenges of trying to communicate in French to the venders but also converting from pounds to kilograms and grams when you’re requesting so much of something. My poor pronunciation almost bought me 4 kilos of carrots (about 8 lbs!) when what I really wanted was a “quarter of a kilo” (the word for “quarter” in French is spelled “quart” but is pronounced very similar to the number 4 in French). The misunderstanding was cleared up, I bought just the “quart” of carrots. The next week I asked for a particular number of carrots (6, not to be confused with 4 or a “quart”of a kilo) and the same vender jokingly asked if I wanted 4 kilos or just 6 carrots. We both laughed. It told me not only did he remembered me but he is willing to tolerate my poor pronunciation and help me a little while I’m buying my vegetables.
One thing I am really happy about is that the prices are clearly marked for each item (vegetable, fish, meat, cheese, coffee, etc) so there’s no haggling over a price as was the case of the market in Malawi and most likely in Burundi as well. That would add a whole new set of misunderstanding.
In closing, here’s a picture from a market of a small town in the south of France taken in August.