Why Sunday in particular? Because on Monday everything’s closed. The supermarket, the smaller shops, even most of the restaurants. So if you’re hungry and you’ve run low on (fill in the blank), you better get it on Sunday or you’re in trouble. And Sunday morning at that, because shops close around 1 pm and then you’re left high-and-dry until Tuesday.
As I have no more meat and no more bread and no more vegetables (except for a few of those amazing tiny Bonnotte potatoes from the island of Noirmoutier) and no more fruit and no more cheese... Well, you get the idea.
So I take my money and my shopping bag and my camera - rarely without it - and head out.
I drop by the butcher’s to buy a veal chop. As they prepare it for me, chopping it with noisy gusto off of a whole row of ribs, they make small talk, asking me what I’m cooking to go with it. That might be nosy in other countries, but this is France and in a way they’re sizing me up to see what kind of culinary stuff I’m made of, and whether it’s The Right Stuff. If it is, you move up a notch in their esteem and they become even more friendly. All part of the initiation process.
That leaves only the cheese shop. It changed hands this past winter, and everyone wondered whether the cheeses were going to be as good as before, and the staff as friendly. Well, the cheeses are a bit different, it’s true, but of the highest quality... and a wide variety. The staff is quite friendly and very knowledgeable, although some ladies among the customers miss the cute young man with the long hair. I select a fourme marinated in muscat wine (which turns out to be delicious!) and a basque goat cheese dusted with rusty-red paprika and piment d’espalette so it’s sure to have some zing to it.
When I reach the top of the steep hill, I drop into Christophe's bakery to pick up a baguette. Through his window, I spot a young lady sitting on the steps to the square. She was already there when I set out, and her book seems to be much further along in its reading. I wonder who she’s waiting for and why he/she/they are keeping her waiting.
A nod to the accordionist in passing and I’m home.
And that’s what it’s like to go shopping in my neighborhood. It involves food, of course. But also a whole way of life, with its cast of characters