A return trip to Saint-Jean-de-Luz, a small coastal town on the French side of Basque Country, brought new revelations. We arrived on Tuesday morning, and on our way towards the center of town, passed through Les Halles, the morning marketplace. And....stop. With two other passionate food lovers, suffice it to say we didn't get very far. If my previous trip was the equivalent of reading the Cliffs Notes, this trip was like analyzing a single paragraph. I mean-I could wax poetic about the oysters alone for this entire post. But lucky for you I won't. Instead, I bring you exhibit B, this bag of raw milk:
Ooooh, it's so contraband it just sends shivers down your spine. If you're American, that is. All the better that it is brought to you in the industrial form of a plastic bag. Bagged raw milk. Oh, zee French.
The same stall featuring the raw milk had irresistible glass jars of yaourt au lait de brebis, a super rich, smooth sheep's milk yogurt. The top layer, tangy and thick, covers a pool of raspberry coulis. I think you're supposed to stir it up, but I couldn't bring myself to. That perfect white yogurt...
...was soon eclipsed by the Olive Lady, who offered us samples of her tapenade and tomatine (sun-dried tomato spread) while we browsed her wooden bowls of flavored olives. Spicy green ones, a la mexicaine, mixed black and green olives, tiny herbed ones, all of them irresistible.
And in the middle of all this, I haven't even gotten to rave about the produce. Pristine, all of it. Even more striking than what I see over here in San Sebastián. Favas, without a blemish. Pink and white radishes that look like cartoons. And strangest of all, tiny little strawberries. Not strange that they were tiny, but strange that the norm, what seemed to be the only acceptable strawberry shape, was at least half the size of the smallest American strawberry.
How can everything be so different, just 15 miles away?
Now, off to Italy, to see how crazy things can really get in a neighboring country....expect photos.