Friday, December 11, 2009

pink cloves and sunny skies

I should have purchased the garlic...

Well, garlic is garlic. And moreover, Wisconsin has garlic. Plenty of it. But this garlic – it was so fragrant and so very pretty! Rose toned, held in bundles – garlic to be proud of.


I’m not much into souvenirs these days, but I do like to bring interesting foods home. And at the market this morning, I was smitten with the garlic.

Thursday is market day in Dinan. It is such a big event in my otherwise delightfully slow paced day that I could hardly sleep. Market day! Wake up! -- I shout this more than once at sunrise. Ed is somewhat less excitable. It takes a while to push him out.

Overnight, the skies cleared. All but the morning fog that gently coats the already wet landscape.


Up the hill we hike, hurrying, because on market day, everyone hurries (in an unhurried French sort of way). The town is absolutely buzzing. The feeling is of some big event, of a holiday in the making. Except that the holiday is not anything at all. It’s just a regular old shopping for food day. Sort of like getting all in a dither about going to Woodman’s.


Lines form – for the chickens, the country breads (because the bakeries here don’t produce sufficiently wonderful bread?), the cheeses, the cauliflower. The leeks, the lettuce, the onions. (And garlic. Don’t forget the garlic.) Pots of flowers.





We buy food for breakfast and lunch. Yogurt, cheese, tomatoes. Olives and pickled mushrooms. Macaroons and tarts.






But on the bread, Ed holds back. Can we go back to last night’s restaurant? Why? They had the best bread ever. (I would agree: we ate two baskets of it. And they had to refill the little tub with Normandy butter. Neither Ed nor I could resist it).

We walk back toward the brasserie, past gloriously alive streets, past cafés where people brave the winter air and sit outside...


At the restaurant they smile at us as we come in. Ah. The people who ate all that bread and butter. Or maybe – the people who ate every last snail and left nothing on their dessert plates. I ask timidly about the bread.

Oh yes, it is good. It’s from the boulangerie just across the street. See it there? With the yellow awning. Ask for the pain traditionel.

Talk about buying local!

We go to the bakery, praise their bread to high heaven and bag the loaf in my pack. Walking back to the river port, we stop at a charcouterie, were, besides pork products you can pick up a great looking tomato, cucumber and egg salad (we get a tubful).

And the chocolate shop. The one where I had photographed this plate of chocolate everything (including the plate and tumbler).


We buy a bar of milk chocolate with spice cake (yes it has pieces of spice cake in it) and bits of bitter orange.

Finally we are ready for breakfast. At noon again. We go back to the café where, on our first morning here, we were told that by all means, we can eat our bakery purchased treats with the café crème. Today I pull out a sack with an apple almond tart for Ed and a red berry almond tart for myself, monsieur brings my coffee and I feel the power of good food and warm café air overtake me. Ed, less emotionally charged, sits back and reads the local paper. (He always spends a great while on this effort even though he speaks not a word of French. I’ve never questioned what exactly he gets from it. The vignette of him studying carefully an incomprehensible French word is somehow sweetly charming. It never fails to make me smile.)

Down the hill now. With my pack full of market foods.


But as we enter our apartment and I unpack, I am reminded of the garlic. I should have purchased the garlic.

You want to go back?
Up that hill? Should I? The market may be over. It’s supposed to be a morning thing. It is now 1.
You want that garlic, don’t you?

I turn around and head back up the hill. Past lace curtained windows, past lace curtained doors. At a panting trot, that’s a fifteen minute climb.



The streets are still alive, but the pace is slower. People aren't rushing. They're strolling now. Shopping's done. Midday meal is done with.


I am at the square just as the vendors are finishing packing up their vans. I see one crate of garlic, but it’s not THE pink toned garlic. The vendor watches as I hesitate. It’s great garlic! She shouts. Yes but...

I hurry forward. There’s my garlic girl! All packed and ready to jump in behind the wheel. Excuse me, can you still spare some bunches of garlic? But of course! She smiles and reaches into the bowels of the van. Voila!

I trot back down, delighted. (But also a little apprehensive; my pack is fragrant with garlic fumes. What will this do to my suitcase?)

Down to the port-facing timbered house -- where we occupy the ground floor (see it there? Looking out on the river path? Yes, that's an artist painting. Such a French scene, no?)


Ed is ready for lunch, presented in the way that he likes it best – roughly spread out on the bed, with laptops not too far away.

We eat our midday meal.

The rest of the day? We made some decisions about excursions for the days ahead. That took a lot of effort! Spent, we opted for a leisurely evening. Up the hill, a stroll through the old town and pizza for dinner.


Walking home late in the evening, we watch the fog roll in.