While my friends at home are celebrating Thanksgiving this week, it seemed like a good time to discuss eating. We spend most of our days and all of our evenings indoors due to our confinement, so cooking has taken on outsized importance in our daily lives. Happily we are living in a spot where there are many options when it comes to shopping for food products. We have more or less given up super markets.
This morning was crisp and clear and we had a wonderful time at the market shopping for supplies. Since we have been mandated to leave the house only for an hour of exercise, or to shop (for an indeterminate amount of time), going to the marché is about the biggest entertainment we have, so why rush through it? We took our sweet time. There is so much to see and appreciate.
The Dinard market is renowned for its selection and quality. The first time we saw it, we swooned. We have been to some very nice markets in France, and this one can rival any of them. It offers so much, and features only food. Often French markets have a lot of stalls with clothes and doodads which for me really takes away from the pure experience. This one is open every morning except Monday and has indoor and outdoor stalls. Today we bought some sourdough bread baked in a wood fired oven and covered with pumpkin, sunflower, sesame and poppy seeds. We got some salmon pâté and some gorgeous fresh tomato spread.
Of course there is almost every kind of fresh fish you can think of for sale at the market. We bought some swordfish one day, as this is the season and made a delicious meal with ginger and garlic. I had the urge a week or two later to make ceviche. The fish monger sold us some beautiful sea bass and prepared it for us perfectly, removing all the scales and bones with his special knives. We enjoyed watching him ply his craft. The fish is “cooked” in lime juice and the result was definitely memorable.
We were here for several weeks before we discovered the Grand Frais, which is something like a warehouse of every kind of food you could ever imagine. It’s enormous and offers produce that we can’t find anywhere else, such as Asian greens. The volume is overwhelming and the quality impressive.
The tomatoes pictured below are just one example. They look like cherries, and come in every color, shape and size you could ever want.
Another evening we made a mushroom lasagna which took us about 4 hours to put together and about 15 minutes to eat. It was spectacularly good. Since it was far too much for the two of us, we ate a third and froze the other 2/3rds, so our return on investment won’t be quite so dismal as it seemed at first.
I have been reading a series of murder mysteries that take place in Brittany, written by Jean-Luc Bannalec. They are full of interesting facts about Breton history, geography and culture. The Missing Corpse takes place in Pont Belon, home to some of the most famous oyster beds in the world. I have just read that oysters are considered one of the healthiest foods on the planet. Even the Ancient Romans understood the medicinal benefits of these delicate little creatures. In my book a doctor puts the main character, detective Dupin, on an oyster diet, which involves eating 36 a day, 12 oysters at each meal. Oysters are the best source of zinc that there is. Zinc has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body and plays a significant role in many metabolic processes. It’s helpful to the immune system, protein synthesis and growth in general. Oysters contain an array of nutrients and vitamins, while having absolutely no fat or carbohydrates. All 20 amino acids are contained in an oyster. Last, but not least, they also contain dopamine, which explains why I always feel so good after consuming a plate full.
We hadn’t eaten any oysters at all since moving to the coast, which when I think about it is crazy. I love oysters. We usually save them for holidays and special occasions, but why? They are available in profusion, at every market and on street corners throughout the city. My book convinced me we had to change our way of thinking about this topic and avail ourselves more frequently of this fresh local delicacy.
Today at the market we bought a dozen of the number 3s for a grand total of 6€. We intend to try the many different vendors and varieties on offer. These ones, we were told, are from the Cap Fréhel, just down the road to the west. The man who sold them said they were harvested at the foot of the castle there. I loved having this precision. He opened one for us to show us how beautiful it was inside and how clear the liquor. He knocked each one against another as he put them in our bag. The solid clacking sound proved that each one was healthy and fresh.
It’s lucky for us that we have such lovely shopping options because we go almost every day to gather our ingredients. Since we live in a seasonal rental apartment, the refrigerator is about the size of a large suitcase. I repeat myself when I say that food shopping, and the resulting good eating, has become one of our greatest pleasures in this life.