The Sunday Market

I’m very lucky that I live just one block from the biggest outdoor market in Paris, the Richard Lenoir Market. Beginning at the Place de la Bastille and radiating northward, Sunday is a particularly lively day, since almost all other shops are closed in Paris on Sunday. I guess the alternative, going to church, is a less-popular option here, even in this predominantly Catholic country. If God is everywhere, I suppose, he’ll find the heathen at the market, lugging around our loaves and fishes.

You can find just about anything at the Richard Lenoir market. (In fact, I found packaging tape this morning. I did look for thermometer batteries, but no luck.) I always set out with an empty basket with the intention of buying a few vegetables and maybe a slab of fish. But by the time I’m done, I’ve almost dislocated my shoulder hauling my market basket home.

It’s obligatory for me, and just about everyone else shopping the market, to stop at the stand of Jackie Lorenzo, one of the best fishmongers in Paris. His stand is always a buzz of activity and you need to push your way to the front to get help. I’ve nudged little old ladies out of the way in order to get served (and they’re not so kindly here, and are far tougher than they look; I’ve come home with bruises!)

Being the resourceful American that has to use his God-given talents to good use to get what he wants around this city, I’ve been known to ply the young men and women who work for M. Lorenzo with chocolate chip cookies on select occassions in the past, so l’americain sometimes gets priority placement in line. Consider it a job perk. The young men and women who work there are always friendly and willing to give advice about preparation too, as is the person behind you (…unless it’s madame that you shoved out of the way. Then it’s best to slide away without making eye contact.)

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It’s scallop season, or as they’re called, les coquilles St. Jacques. At the stand today they were piled high, almost up to the top of my head! They’re normally sold in their shells with their orange ‘foot’ attached in France. and I bought four live ‘uns, which cost around 4 euros. For lunch, I pried them open with my oyster knife, removed all the gooey stuff, and sautéed them briefly with garlic and butter.

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Monkfish is very popular in France, often referred to in America as “Poor Man’s Lobster”. It’s common for fish merchants in France to leave the heads on fish to prove they’re fresh (the eyes should always be clear). But monkfish are so ugly, they lop off the tête. I’ve never bought one. They scare me, even without their heads.

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I don’t know if anyone purposely displays their dry sausages like a cobra, but that’s what they look like to me. One confusing thing for us non-native French speakers is the difference is the words for saucisson, which is a dry-cured sausage, and saucisse, the fresh sausage. Invariably I screw it up and they give me funny looks (another thing I’ve gotten used to around here.)

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Since sunday is so busy, often the butchers will just put out some slices of…ok, quick!…it is saucisse or saucisson?…
They make a nice snack while roving the market too.

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When I began cooking at Chez Panisse in the early 80′s, we would buy imported blood oranges from Italy and diners invariably would ask, “How do you get the oranges that color?”. If I was in a particular mood, I’d make up a good story. People would also ask if the goat cheese was tofu. Nowadays, I presume, goat cheese is more common than tofu in America. Even (or especially) in Berkeley.

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If you don’t feel like cooking, you can buy long-simmered boeuf Bourguignon already made. Since the weather’s been especially cold here in Paris, you can see it’s rather popular.

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Another take-out item, stuffed cabbage. I see bacon peeking out…
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Leeks are very popular in France and almost everyone’s shopping basket has a plume of green leaves poking out. Leeks are gets par-boiled, cooled to room temperature, then doused in vinaigrette. I also crumble hard-cooked eggs over the top, or mash some good anchovies into the dressing.

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I know this isn’t good for me, but I can’t resist bringing home a perhaps not-too-healthy slab of terrine Gascogne. The butchers grind together long-simmered pork confit with savory bits of duck liver and duck confit, packed in it’s own fat. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever tasted and they always sell me too much. When they hover the knife over the terrine, so I can tell them where to slice, they invariably move the knife in the opposite direction that I tell them. I am sure they do it on purpose but when I get home and take my first bite from the rich slab, I know it will be gone within a few days so I’m happy to have it all.

Richard Lenoir Market
Begins at the Place de la Bastille
Mètro: Bastille or Bréguet Sabin
Market is Thursday and Sunday, between (approximately) 9am to 1pm

Categories:

Food Markets

21 comments

  • Of course you mixed the definitions of saucisson and saucisse. Maybe you should go to La Sorbonne for a few years. We French like our foreigners to speak a perfect french! While we speak argot. Of course!

  • See what I mean, folks? I stand corrected and made the correction.
    Although who’s going to correct my butcher? (see photo…)

  • We’re lucky enough in Cleveland to have a great indoor/outdoor market, the West Side Market–wonderful bread, meats, produce, etc.–but there’s never any boeuf bourguignon to go!
    What is cabbage stuffed with in Paris? I’m familiar with this as a Slovak dish, when it’s stuffed with a mix of ground beef and rice.

  • Glad to see that you’re well enough to get out again.

    Have you made your emergency chicken stock yet?

  • David, I’m seething with jealousy over your proximity to the Marche Richard Lenoir! When I was in Paris, I lived a block from its northernmost point, and I was there every Sunday, like clockwork. [Sigh.] What a treat.

    Is the stand “Mille et Une Huiles” still there? They used to be in the middle aisle, toward the northern end of the market. I worked there for a while in 2002, nearly freezing my hands off on the chilly mornings, but hot damn, was it ever worth it…

    Enjoy that gorgeous slab of terrine!

  • We made choux farcis in class recently! Funny to hear that I can buy it at the market, I’ll try to make it out there soon.

  • I am so jealous!! One of the things I miss from ma France! Sigh! Especially those scallops with coral. I have asked every restaurant here why they don’t get them! Well, you might have the market, I have the sea, na! Tiens et voila!

  • Mary: Never bought the stuffed cabbage. It’s not up there in my Top Ten. Especially if there’s Beef Bourguigne simmering nearby.

    Grommie: Am waiting for Alisa’s delivery. My freezer is reserved for recipe testing for my next cookbook project.

    Molly: I will! And come back and visit. I’ll inflate the Aerobed…

    Christine: Maybe you can slip one in your pocket and sneak it out during class, and see if the teacher’s notice.

    Bea: We used to get the scallops with the coral at Chez Panisse, but I’ve not seen them often in the states. You can get those beautiful Bay scallops (petoncles?) in the US, which are hard to find here. Maybe you and I need to start a ‘care-package’ exchange? (not for seafood, of course, but I am getting rather low on organic peanut butter and dried sour cherries…)

  • Thanks for sharing your market stroll. I can only sit at my computer and drawl. Those scallops look amazing and nothing like those in my local fishmonger. Rather insane considering I live slap bang in the middle of the English Channel. I can send Organic Peanut Butter though!! Looking forward to the next cookbook.

  • I am much relieved to see you posting. I was a bit worried.
    Good market story. It has made me hungry and it isn’t time to eat.

  • I grew up rue Sedaine, and we lived there until I was 10. Bréguet-Sabin was my metro stop, and my mom would take me to the Richard Lenoir marché every sunday (even though she was a terrible cook)… Brings back memories…

  • Hey! Yo! I offered the stock, delivered, and am still waiting for your reply. Humph.

    Offer still good

  • David, I was curious whether in your market trips or other shopping/eating you’re noticing a dropoff in poultry interest (bird flu-related)? I don’t like getting all uptight about these things, but will admit that the thought of bird flu in France puts a little bit of a damper on the excitement for our Dordogne trip in May since the little duckies are such a big part of the cuisine down there.

  • AlliK: Um….er, that’s a question I’ve been asking myself. As someone who doesn’t eat beef in the United States unless I know what it’s been fed (since the USDA refuses to test beef) I don’t know how I feel about poultry. I presume by the time you’re in France, the birds will have migrated to the US and the bird flu will be present there as well. Judging from the emails that I got when the immigrants were burning Paris to the ground, I think the US media tends to overblow things happening abroad if it makes good news (or if Martha and the Donald are unusually quiet that week.)

    I was in line at the supermarket the other day with some turkey, then I ran back to the meat aisle and bought some organic sausages instead (which were terrible.)

    Since the flu hasn’t really been shown to infect diners (yet) I’m not super paranoid. Yet, I am buying more pork (and brocolli) than before. BTW: when I was at the Monoprix supermarket, I was trying to find tofu when I settled for turkey. (Which was on sale…) French people aren’t fans of bean curd, or discounted turkey I presume.

  • Any time, let me know when we start the care package exchange!! I always have a list ready! (a friend just returned from France to bring me a few missed items).

  • Here’s a pretty good basic info site on Paris’ Marché-
    http://www.v1.paris.fr/fr/marches/liste_marches.asp According to France2 news last night,people don’t want to eat vacinated birds :( You can watch it here… http://jt.france2.fr/

  • Hi David!
    I just hopped over to your blog while having lunch break… It would have been better for me to grab something to eat FIRST and then read your entry, because now I’m really hungry ;) But the next market is just 5 minutes away, let’s see if I could find some equally good looking scallops, that’s what I’m craving for dinner now!

  • I enjoyed the virtual trip through the Sunday market. When I visit Paris I also enjoy the one on Blvd. Raspail (no shortage of mesdames there either). Here’s how I keep saucisses and saucissons straight in my own mind: saucissons has 3 syllables like salami, and saucisse has 2, like sausage.

  • Steve: Thanks for the tip. That’s a good one and I use things like that as well. Theoretically, it should make it easier when I reach the counter and it’s my turn to order. Then they throw ‘saucisse seche’ in there…and it throw the whole thing off. The French sure know how to vex us Anglophones!

  • Oh, you have me so jealous and missing Paris with an actual pain in my heart (or am I eating too much butter?). Those scallops look amazing, and I am craving monkfish. It is wonderful poached in oil.

  • …I think the US media tends to overblow things happening abroad if it makes good news (or if Martha and the Donald are unusually quiet that week.)
    -too true… hell, Martha & Donald even got the chest pumping American Olympians off the front page for a while…

    Thanks for sharing your trip to the market…
    the pictures are brilliant! on my last trip to France (Lyon) I found great fun in wondering about the Sunday street market… certainly a truer experience of French culture cannot be had…