Friday, December 4, 2009

Food! Glorious Food!

I can't resist French markets. Who could? The fresh and seasonal foods brought to market each morning by the producers and offered in beautiful, bountiful displays are simply irresistible! The place we stayed in Nantes happened to be just a few steps away from the Talensac Market, one of the largest and most spectacular ones we've seen in France. It is located in a very long glass building with an enormous number of stands offering some of the best produce and seafood available in France. The sandy soils in the area are known to grow superior vegetables and the seaside, just up the river a few kilometers, offers a gorgeous variety of seafood, particularly shell fish, which prefer the cooler Atlantic waters. There is nothing like fresh-made butter, which is not usually available at supermarkets. Dairy farmers sell their large golden-yellow mounds which taste so much more delicious than anything found at the "grand-surface". Baked goods are available in every shape, form and taste. When we shop at an unfamiliar market, we always choose the stands which have the longest lines. We had a five minute wait here, but it was well worth it! This is the season for coquille st jacques. Marché Talensac had mounds of them on offer, along with oysters. We bought a dozen. We had never seen tete de veau on offer before. With our American sensibilities, it's hard for us to imagine eating this popular dish! At the market the heads were decorated in sunglasses and sported pipes. The second time we passed this stand, one of the heads was gone...bound for someone's dinner table. Thanksgiving in France We celebrated Thanksgiving as always with our American friends and family. Emily and Alex (our cooking instructor at Maison Conti) are both vegetarians, so they concentrate on making the vegetable side dishes, and desserts. We cooked together all day long, and had a beautiful and abundant meal together as the sun was setting.


  1. Nancy,you write so nice things about France ! I must say that one about "Marché de Talensac" is enterely true (even if one can think I am a little bit full of "chauvinisme" !. My parents used to go at least twice a week to this market Tuesdays and the better days, especially for fish,Fridays. So did my grand-mother who was an excellent cook. Talensac is quite an institution in Nantes. The place has been renewed recently.
    The freshness of most of the products is due to the fact the majority comes from the surroundings : vegetables from the sandy banks of the river Loire, fish from the seashore (one hour driving).
    When you say to your hosts : "this come from Talensac", it means it is the best !

  2. ooooooohhhh, I'm hungry...

    Maybe not for the tete de veau though, seeing I think maybe Australians share your sensibility in this case. Although I bet if I was there and someone served it up, I'd almost be up for the experience. Almost.

  3. It all looks delicious! You are so right. Markets are irresistible. The smells and atmosphere just make you want to shop and eat! Just don't go when you are hungry. :-) There's one in NYC called Chelsea market that has wonderful gourmet shops, bakeries and cafes.