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Published: March 25th 2018
Thionville Food Market
One of the cheese stalls. These markets are on every Saturday as a supply of fresh produce.
Saturdays are a good day to go food shopping.
Whether it’s at the local supermarket at home or the mobile fresh food markets in France, the mission is the same; stocking up for the week ahead. In my limited experience, Europeans, particularly those in small towns and rural areas, rely heavily on their weekly fix of market day.
Today we visited the French towns of Thionville and Metz for a healthy dose of local culture.
The outdoor market in Thionville sells all the ‘food groups’, and as you walk through grey, nondescript streets shaded by multi-storey appartments, you turn the corner and your senses are assaulted by an overdose of colour, noise, and the fragrant flower stall through which we entered the market.
The vivid colours of the fruit and vegetable stalls compete with the pungent odours of the fish and smallgoods stalls and most stalls stock items I’ve never seen, or are varieties of vegetables that are not available in Australia. Spuikers compete for our attention and soon tag team with English speaking work colleagues in order to ‘value add’ to the attractiveness of their goods; it definitely works with me.
Cheese, farm made yoghurts
and organic honey and eggs huddle together in one corner of the market and it seems the organic food movement has a strong following in France; people are prepared to part with a little more money for more natural food.
The odours of crusty bread and sweet glacé topped pastries waft across the market from the patisseries and bakeries scattered throughout , in a vain attempt to squash the, to me, less desirable fish vendors ugly smells. That’s the fish, not the vendors we’re talking about here.
Natalia and I bought paella for lunch, and we arrived back at the car with honey, cheese, black bread and an assortment of fresh fruit and vegetables. We also bought some Galettes de Pommes de Terre, a pan fried indulgence of grated potatoes and some unknown ingredients flattened into a pancake shape that was as close to takeaway as you could buy. It is a delicious treat with a heart attack in every bite!
Onward to Metz.
The trip to Metz is a short drive along high speed freeways but to be honest, they’re all high speed freeways to Natalia, a self confessed lead foot. The change in drivers
from Tim to Natalia was like jumping out of a London cab and climbing into a Ferrari on the autobahn, a 1.2 litre Ferrari at that.
We entered a large square directly from the car park and immediately joined the busy shop lined walkways, window gazing and trying to dodge the approaching throng, all immersed in their smartphones or looking everywhere but ahead; nothing new here!
The outdoor markets in front of the cathedral were packing up so we had a stroll through the indoor food market located in the old Bishops Palace. It was like a compact version of Thionville market in a can, with the roof as a lid. The odours were more intense and less avoidable.
A ride on the tourist Choo Choo Train is a family tradition/joke that started in Burgos, Spain in 2014. This train today was less joke and more an information tour. Fourtyfive minutes in total, we had audio phones describing the mix of German and French history of the town and left with an overview of Metz that you don’t get just walking around. If I keep pumping it up maybe I’ll even convince myself it wasn’t a just
a little bit ’cheesy’.
And so ends our tour of Thionville and Metz.
Conclusion: the French eat better than we do. Maybe it’s the availability of many varieties of different foods, or it might be a result of getting a head start of a few thousand years in developing their own cuisine, but they just seem to buy food at the weekend market that is considered gourmet in Australia. I could be wrong but , like many European regions, they are fiercely proud of the food that is specific to their area, a development that is yet to reach home.
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