Let me just state for the record that I have the best husband in the whole wide world. Even though he’s totally annoying, I can say with certainty that this man is a saint. He does everything that I want and dedicates his weekends to my happiness. Raise your hand if you have a husband that takes you to museum after museum, exhibit after exhibit, restaurants that only you like, flea markets, Château tours, chick shops, flower markets and farmers markets… Every. Single. Weekend. Yes, I married well and yes, he married up. :-)
However, he does all of this not without complaining. He complains when I wake him up at 7 AM on a Sunday, he complains when we have to squeeze into a tiny French elevator with my wheelchair and breathing machine, he complains that I force him to take Uber X (the fancy Uber), he complains that it’s too hot, he complains that he hasn’t had coffee yet and he complains that he has to pay for everything. He does all of this complaining in a loud French voice. His only saving grace is that he’s super handsome and I let him get away with a lot because he’s easy on the eyes. I also cut him some slack because he is one of the rare husbands that doesn’t have to be told what to wear which saves me oodles of time. Luckily I have never had to utter the words, “Please don’t wear a tank top or socks with crocs.” My husband knows how to dress… And I thank him for that.
He usually continues his complaining all the way to our destination. Once he gets a café au lait and a pain au chocolat into his system (like a fucking two-year-old girl), he stops crying and enjoys the ride. In fact he more than enjoys the ride. He actually “gets into it.” At museums, he doesn’t rush and he reads all of the descriptions and loves the gift shop as much as I do. At restaurants, he always lets me order and we share everything. At flea markets, he looks over every booth and picks up items that he knows I will like and shows them to me (he actually has a great eye). At flower markets, he smells all the flowers for me and tells me if I would like them or not (I cannot smell anything through my breathing machine). At the makeup counter he always asks me, “Do you want anything else that would make you feel pretty.” At clothing shops, he goes through each rack with me and never gets bored and tells me that blue is my color. And at farmers markets… He is the best which brings us to today’s blog posting.
On Saturday evening, I announced to my husband that we were going to wake up early Sunday morning to go to the farmers market in the 12th arrondissement (Bastille neighborhood) of Paris. I thought that giving him less than 24 hour notice was polite, don’t you? And of course, he starts complaining and mumbling his French catchphrase which includes every French swearword on the face of the earth and something about a bordello. I had to explain to him that I had heard through the grapevine about a woman named The Chicken Lady at the farmers market that we had to go to visit. Apparently, this woman named Catherine makes the best roasted chicken, poulet rôti, in all of Paris. The Chicken Lady marinates her poulet crapaudine (spatchcocked birds) for several days in a variety of ingredients like ginger, honey, citrus and sesame. The chicken is then roasted to perfection resulting in a sticky crispy skin that is irresistible. My husband replied to me, “So we are waking up at the crack of dawn on a Sunday… For a chicken?” Yep!
Of course we were going to wake up at the crack of dawn on a Sunday for a chicken… Amongst other things… such as a tomatoes… Specifically Coeur de Boeuf tomatoes. So, off to the Marché Bastille we go. This farmers market is one of the largest in Paris and is perfect for a first-time tourist in the City of Light. This market has everything… fruits and veggies, sel de Provence, quintessential French striped T-shirts à la Picasso, piping hot crêpes au fromage, fresh pastas with homemade spicy arrabiatta sauce, Parisians’ beloved stinky Roquefort cheese, fleurs bon marché (cheap flowers), herbs and of course that roasted chicken!
We arrived at the farmers market by 9 AM and that was almost too late for the chicken. By the time we got to The Chicken Lady, 90% of her chickens were already sold. Luckily, we managed to score one of the last remaining ginger and citrus chickens. Let me tell you, the scent of roasting chickens dripping with fat onto roasting herbed potatoes is enough to book a flight to Paris ASAP, regardless of the heat wave. I could hardly wait to get the chicken home so we could devour it. Yes, I reminded myself that I’m a part-time vegetarian only in theory. I dare you to pass up this chicken, my vegan friends.
All my wildest dreams came true with this chicken… Crispy, sweet skin, almost caramelized, almost candied. Tart with the ginger, mellowed out with the honey and a little crunch with the sesame. Moist and juicy meat, a perfect complement to my sage stuffing and juicy tomatoes.
And this is why we wake up at the crack of dawn to go to a French farmers market, dear husband. He didn't complain once and he took all of these photos.A toute!
*Something you don’t know about me? I’m quite critical. Surprise surprise. :-). While I recommend the Marché Bastille for The Chicken Lady, I don’t recommend it for the diehard farmers market goers. It’s a bit generic with the usual characters of vegetables and fruits. It’s a bit loud and there are too many Americans sporting golf shirts, fanny packs and comfortable shoes. My favorite farmers markets are the Marché Grenelle and the Marché Raspail.
The Marché Grenelle is located under the metro tracks in the 15th arrondissement and it is where the true Parisians shop. There is no fluff here, no tourists and is all about the produce. This is the real deal and no one bats an eye at the politically incorrect potatoes cooked in goose fat. They are delicious and that’s all anyone cares about. The mushrooms look like mushrooms and the cheese smells like cheese. Nothing is sugarcoated here. If this is a problem for you, remind yourself that you are in France and not Santa Monica.
If you need a little bit more ritz in your farmers market like I do sometimes, I head to the Marché Raspail in the 6th arrondissement. Everything here is très jolie and parfait and bio (organic). Lovely and subdued, there are no screaming vendors here like at the Marché Bastille. Prices are higher because they cater to easily impressed Americans but who cares, it’s all gorgeous and delicious. It’s like Gelson’s… But outdoors. I usually go to this market when I need my Barefoot Contessa fix as Ina Garten, herself, has been spotted at this market numerous times (her apartment is nearby.)
Do you want to hear a funny story? Sometimes I just can’t bear farmers markets… Because I have a very delicate constitution. My equilibrium is very sensitive and fragile. Stinky cheeses, fishy fish, meaty sausages quite literally put me over the edge. Case in point: About eight years ago, I was in Mallorca, Spain at my friend Diandra Douglas’ drop dead gorgeous villa. I will do a blog on it this week so you can see… You will die. Anyway, this is a vacation house which basically means that this is a party house (no kids on this trip) and this particular Saturday night we had been partying quite hard… Lots of Palo de Mallorca cocktails, lots of Spanish cigarettes, and lots of flamenco dancing with roadside gypsies until the sun came up… A wee bit of debauchery. Come Sunday morning, I was ready to check into a rehab, but Diandra had different plans for all of us. She was in tip top shape because she had been raised in Mallorca and her body was immune. The rest of us, her weary novice guests (me, my husband and my cousin) were toast. We were exhausted, filthy, hungover and quite possibly needing our stomachs pumped. However, our lovely host, Diandra, was up and ready to take us to her favorite farmers market. Jesus fucking Christ.
Because we have manners, we agreed to join her. Bad idea. This was the last place I should be. Driving like a Formula One champion, Diandra navigated the winding treacherous hillside roads with precision. Winding roads and hangovers do not mix… Neither does 100° heat and a hangover. I kept looking out of the car windows for a hospital. No such luck and we arrived at the farmers market. This is quite possibly the worst day of my life. Loud, sticky, sweaty, stinky Mallorccan farmers market with a hangover is hell on earth. At the first booth my senses were assaulted by tangy scented ripe sausages and dead pigs hanging by ropes buzzing with flies. Diandra chatted lyrically in her beautiful fluent Mallorquin indigenous dialect and ordered about 400 pounds of sausage and ham. I started to get dizzy. At the next booth, Diandra bought pound after pound of robust Manchengo cheese and then continued on to the next booth where she bought three birds and I think, a cat. That was it, I was ready to die. Sweaty ham, stinky cheese and dirty animals put me over the edge. I had to walk away. I had to walk away! My cousin cautiously steadied me and had no choice but to sit me down on the sidewalk… next to a bar. Yep, it got worse. Because she is halfway nice, my cousin found a hot Sprite for me and tried to get me to drink it. Hot Sprite just made it worse. Because she is halfway mean and hysterical she wickedly whispered one word to me… “Jambon” and then I just heaved all over the sidewalk. I was laughing, crying and puking at the same time and then my husband had to carry me to the car where I sat in silence thanking Dios that we were out of there. Gracias/no gracias Spanish farmers market.