I am so excited to welcome Paris Paysanne's first ever guest blogger, Céline Vallauri. Céline has lived all over France (and the world!) and has recently settled in Biarritz, where she works at the town's open-air market. I was lucky enough to visit Céline and her charming Aussie partner in Biarritz a few weeks ago and see how immersed she is in the local food scene there. The region has so much to offer as far as native fruits and veggies and we're lucky to have Céline share her local knowledge with us!
My uncle used to have a stand at the market Forville in Cannes, and as a child I particularly liked to go there and see him sell his vegetables and fruits. The market's atmosphere was quite exceptional, it was a warm, nice and lively place!
Each product one finds at the market is usually produced in the region where the market takes place, that's why a market in Lille will be quite different to the one i'm about to write about.
I moved to Biarritz beginning of January 2011, and finding work in a touristy and seasonal town like Biarritz isn't easy! Unless you work in real estate or you're a hairdresser…
When I read about a vacant position in a stand at the market of Les Halles de Biarritz, I seized the occasion and went straight to the market in order to convince my employers-to-be.
The next day I was given a trial, and I was hauling my first stack of apples at 6h30 in the morning. I must say that being a seller at the market is far from anything I had ever done before.
However, it is one of the most interesting jobs I have done so far.
I'm learning every day about different varieties of fruits and vegetables, the season each of them grow in, and the best ways of preparing and preserving them.
One of my favourite products is the tomato! Because it exists hundreds of varieties, all of them as interesting and tasty as the other. Because it is a generous vegetable, its grains are abundant and its juice and smell make one salivate!
I want to present the different varieties we have at the moment on the market, they're all from the South West of France, in open ground, and that we get directly from the producer. This is why they wouldn't be found all year round, and that their trade is important, for it sustains local agriculture.
First I'd like to introduce the producer in question, Jean-Luc Garbage. His farm is in Saint-Martin d'Armagnac (Gers) and he has one of the most respected work methods. He has done this job for over 20 years, and it is a true passion for this man, he is a committed farmer!
He has specialised in the production of mini-vegetables as well as ancient varieties according to traditional methods. In fact, he produces all sorts of salads and edible plants, as well as eggplants, capsicums, broccoli and cabbage, melons and wild strawberries… and those fascinating tomatoes!
He produces accordingly to each season, his work methods are traditional and natural, which makes his products all the more authentic and unique.
The ancient varieties of tomatoes are becoming quite prized since a few years, even though they have long existed. Their flavour and originality put them straight away in the centre stage!
Here are the varieties that we sell at the moment :
La Noir de Crimée
The best of the black tomatoes, splendid colours, from dark purple to dark green.
Mild taste, not at all acid.
la Jaune Ananas/Pineapple
Gorgeous tomato, from yellow to red, multicoloured. Excellent taste and flavour, not much acidity.
la Coeur de Boeuf/Ox heart
Plump and tasty.
Splendid tomato, bright orange colour, tasty and sweet.
One of the tastiest tomato, perfect for cooking sauces, traditionally used for sun-dried tomatoes.
Emerald green, juicy flesh, flavoured and sweet.
Very mild flavoured.
la Beauté Blanche/ White Beauty/White Wonder
White-cream coloured, very mild because it's a sweet tomato. Very plump and little acid.
Juicy flesh, flavoured and fruity. Very good taste, rich in vitamin A.
Very attractive tomato, golden stripped on a reddish/pinkish colour. Firm and flavoured.
To finish this article, I'd like to share a recipe I particularly like to make using ancient varieties of tomatoes, when they're too ripe to be sold. It's Gaspacho, a perfect refreshing cocktail of vitamins!
You'll need a good kilogram of tomatoes, 2 capsicums, 1 cucumber, spring onions, garlic, 1 lime and 1 lemon, a few chillies, salt, pepper, vinegar and of course, extra-virgin olive oil and basil!
Cut everything in cubes, in a large bowl. Add 4 tablespoons of vinegar, 1 glass of water. Add olive oil to your liking. Finally blend everything until it gets the consistency of a soup.
Leave it to rest a few hours before the meal.