Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Another of the many things we love about Provence is the choices. Like many a regional cuisine, upon first view it seems as if there are not the choices of cuisine we are blessed with here in America. You can find pizza and an occasional Chinese place, but mostly what you have is Provencal food made with Provencal produce. (A notable exception is a large amount of Argentinian beef for sale in restaurants and groceries.)
It has taken some time for us to discover the subtleties. Within this cuisine people make the same thing taste entirely different from bistro to bistro.
In the last two years especially, we have been cooking in more and shopping more. From market to market and grocery to grocery, a simple ingredient like garlic is different. There was a huge variety of sizes, colors and strengths. These were so good I wanted to bring some home to plant. Over here I can go to four different groceries within a 10 mile radius and they all have the same variety of garlic. It's very good, but it's the same. The range of flavors within a limited number of ingredients makes for infinite variety.
In France there is a wonderful divide between what you can sell at an antique fair. In the USA we think anything over 5 years old is an "antique". Here in Florida I have seen cars that I consider pretty current with antique plates. Of course, I think I'm pretty current and am considered an antique by many. Over there a true antique must be quite old (I am not privy the the regulations) and have been of a certain quality. If it was mass-produced, is not that old or falls into our category of "kitsch" it is called a brocante. Therefore, if you go to an antique dealer, you will probably be looking at an antique. Whether you pay a fair price....................................it's an antique dealer.
We were on a back street in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and sat down for a cup of tea. My tea switched to a small beer and Janie and I sat and watched people go by (The French national pastime). The light was beautiful and I got a bunch of these pictures. A bit later two men came out of the church and got on either side of the little white-haired lady and carried her down the steps to her husband who had pulled their car up.