We woke last Saturday to drizzle falling from a silver ceiling of a sky, hanging low, leaving us all with a case of the blues. Perhaps dreaming of Paris, of elsewhere. I know when I catch myself reading San Sifton's restaurant reviews in the New York Times something needs to be done so that I remember why I love it here.
Remi and I bundled up and headed out, making ourselves small under a tiny, broken umbrella. I had thought that the market would be empty but that just goes to show how much I still underestimate the French attachment to their food. It would take more than a little bit of pluie to keep them away! Pssh!
Our shellfish guy greeted us with his traditional smirk and a handshake. Weekend lazy birds that we are (or that I am to be more precise), we seldom make it to his stand before 11am, by which time all of the best oysters have been sold out. But for once! Aha! The tiny, briny huitres de la mer. Sigh. And the miracle? They are only 3.80€ the dozen. That is just over five bucks. For the dozen. I tell ya, I have paid that much for one in some of my old martini joint days. Their perfume of the sea is an instant link to sunnier times and climes.
As the sky opened into a downpour, Remi headed home with our moving mop of a Golden but I had a mission in mind. Customers had to shout at the vendors to be heard and yet everyone wore a goofy smile at the ridiculousness of bending about to avoid bumping umbrellas. At the very least, I thought it polite to stop by the Vietnamese dumpling seller that we had first visited last week. Loyalty is no joking matter in the Provençal markets. So it was a big deal to convince Remi to give this new vendor a try. Her truck is blue and beaten up, looks like nothing (but as any foodie knows that is a good sign). We often get Vietnamese food on the weekends as a treat and were delighted when she had immediately shoved two piping hot samosas in front of us to nibble on. Her cooking is fantastic, simple but with the exact clean taste that we knew in Vietnam. She was clearly delighted to see that she had, indeed, won a new customer and set about asking a rapid-fire list of questions. Within minutes she had decided that I should teach English and promised that she would keep an eye out for possible students. She told me of how she is putting her son through his studies in Paris, paying 1000€ for his miniscule apartment. As she gathered up my purchases, she placed the above chicken and shrimp salad in the bag as well. "This is from me," she said simply. Sometimes the surprise of unexpected kindnesses can change your world around.
How wonderful to come home to a roaring fire and such a luxurious lunch..for practically nothing. As we settled in for one of our long eating and talking marathons, Remi made one of my favorite declarations. "Nous sommes quand même les Rois du Pétrole". It translates to living like a king! An oil magnate! Here in Provence, that is one of the simple joys that is available for everyone to appreciate. Yes, of course, now I remember...