In order to get to Spain, we took our car across to Cherbourg on the ferry, which meant a bit of a mad dash southbound, traversing France at a less than a pleasurable, relaxed speed. Bad planning meant forking over a small French king’s ransom to use the toll roads – sacre bleu! At last count, France had squeezed £150 from our weeping wallets. Some of our pain was dutifully eased by a 2 night crash at the sweet Le Moulin Pastelier, run & hosted by expat British folks Donna & Chris.
Just a spitting distance outside of Toulouse, in the verdant French country side, it made the perfect place for rest & exploration. We were handed some good tips on the local villages and that the big, regional market would take place the next day in Revel.
We love French markets – it puts our faith back (after many years absence) that the French really do know their food. Zut alors! We circled the market square half a dozen times, eyeing up the plethora of cheese, charcuterie, butchers, bread, condiment & veggie stalls and developing a massive case of market produce envy. Our UK markets are good, but the Revel village market was in a seriously different dimension.
The charcuterie stalls elicited the most drool as it is an artisanal art form not widely practised in the UK and just beginning to catch hold. In our searches for UK charcuterie courses we have come across just one not in London proper, taught by – you guessed it – a Frenchman.
The choices at the Revel market were beyond overwhelming and it was quite hard, knowing we were going to be in Spain for 3 weeks, to hold back on packing the wee Nissan Micra to the gills with a decent assortment of just about everything the market had on offer.
The French, besides knowing their food, also know how to do a damn fine job of presentation. They seem to have that je ne sais quoi factor that, with just a minor, subtle twist, the ordinary becomes the extraordinary. Example numero uno – bowl of olives (below) flecked with bits of red peppers.
Or this almost irresistible, savoury scented humongous pan of a French styled paella…
And to add the final nail in our argument coffin, whilst having a rest stop at a service centre on aforementioned toll highways to hell, who but the French, instead of shelves stacked with junk food, offer you the option to purchase servings of Duck Confit or perhaps some Raclette or Comte cheeses for your journey…