Markets just seem so French to me. Maybe it’s because I spent 5 months in Provence and one of the many new and different things there was the market. Le marche. In Aix, there were many markets. There was the Saturday market, where almost all of the city’s largest squares and streets were filled with vendors selling souvenirs, clothing, fabric, soap, and other treasures; there was the Sunday flea market, where I found a Longchamp purse for 10 euro and beautiful anchor buttons I had the intention of making into earrings; the Tuesday/Thursday flower market that I wish I had an excuse to buy from; and the weekday food markets, with fresh fruit, vegetables, sausages, and cheeses that made for perfect picnics.
One of the many things I admire about the French, is the way they eat, and markets are certainly part of that. Most French families (in Provence, at least) buy food more often and in smaller quantities. Not only does this allow for more inspirational cooking, but fresher ingredients. Instead of doing a weekly or biweekly, in some cases, shopping trip at the supermarket and being locked into whatever food they purchase, perhaps they’ll be inspired by that impossibly red tomato and make a ratatouille.
Living in New York City, we are very lucky to have access to many farmer’s markets. The largest farmer’s market program is Greenmarket, organized and managed by GrowNYC. They are responsible for the huge Union Square market, and the smaller neighborhood markets (like Tompkins and Stuyvesant Town, which are close to me). Full disclosure here, I wish I shopped at markets more often. Most of the time, I go to a grocery store or order from Fresh Direct, but every time I go to a market, I wonder to myself why I don’t do it more often. The food is fresh, local, and inexpensive.
This past weekend, while walking my dog with my fiance, we passed the Stuyvesant Town market and were drawn in by the prospect of wine tasting at 11 am. It was the start of a market-inspired dinner. We tasted wine, bought two bottles, and then wandered over to the fish stand. The wine guy said something about “going great with fish” and the wheels started turning. We looked at the fish: black sea bass, swordfish, cod, and were intrigued by the shellfish. The shellfish won, and we bought a bag of mussels for $6 (feeds 3-4) and 1/2 pound of scallops. The corn at the veggie stand looked good and so we picked up 5 ears for $2 (the price of three in a store). We returned to the apartment with our bounty and I started planning dinner: mussels and scallops in a wine sauce, with steamed broccoli, zucchini, and an ear of corn. Simple, summery, fresh, and local and the whole thing cost us $18 for everything. Not bad for a satisfying seafood meal for three. recipe below…