Festival of Market Colors

Can I entice you with eye candy? It’s been many weeks, now, since we visited the Marche Biologique Raspail (Paris, Sunday mornings, closing promptly at 1:30 p.m.), but I recall the colors clearly. Such a festive array that made me think of the holidays.

What did the market offer? Beautiful things with masterpiece prices. Large pungent bunches of thyme and rosemary, cilantro and basil. Red chicory leaves. Blue flowers I don’t know. Game hens plucked and tied into little balls. All the cheeses and butters and yogurts of a fromagerie from Bretagne (customers bought wedges of butter sliced from a brick the size of a small refrigerator).

Green beans, yellow beans, red and white beans speckled like the Anasazi variety of New Mexico. Gray salt with herbs and tiny packets of fleur de sel.

Bee pollen and a dozen types of honey. Blood sausage, cured ham, ground beef, sides of pork. Bags of lentils and pasta, bins of golden raisins, olives and figs, pickled artichokes, the loveliest little red and white radishes (black radish, too), pumpkins the color of cheese, cheese the color of sunlight.

Soaps and lotions, oils and perfumes. Cashmere sweaters and winter-weather shawls.

Oysters and shrimp, eggs and potato crepes, orange cake, mint tea, chocolate tart and bread, bread, bread.

The crowd meandered through, never pushing but sometimes bumping; never shouting but not quite whispering. All calm and order and sanitation. For a market, there were few smells; nothing like the sweat-laden cacophonies of Southeast Asia.

Come closing time, the tables were cleared, the customers nearly gone and the vendors on their way. Tres efficasse.

We bought a wedge of saffron-colored cheese, two little cups of organic yogurt (without sugar but essence of orange), half a kilo of heirloom tomatoes, and on our way we went. We stopped at a deli and ordered a salad of beets and walnuts to go, then took our lunch to a cold bench beneath a tree at Les Tuileries. We ate until our fingers turned stiff with cold, then we joined the swarms of people inside the Louvre.

Too many people. We left just in time to catch Lenny Kravitz exiting a side door. With Leica in hand, he snapped pictures of the paparazzi who snapped back, and for a few moments we witnessed a curious scene of monkey see. Then Lenny blew a kiss to the crowd as his people whisked him away.

2 thoughts on “Festival of Market Colors

  1. Kristine, I often wish I had a mobile kitchen I could take with me on our travels.
    By the way, I took a look at your site. I’m interested in your thoughts on Laos….

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