We’ve finally made it back to France, after 4 weeks of family, fun, and titivating our house there for marketing purposes. When we arrived, stocking up with food was a problem. The shop was closed: the baker’s was closed: holidays you see. Then I remembered the evening market at La Bastide sur l’Hers.
Over the last few years, during July and August, evening markets have grown in popularity in the towns and villages in this part of the world. Originally, the idea was to attract people in to spend a pleasant hour or two browsing at the stalls offering hand-crafted goods and bits of this and that. Increasingly, they’ve become somewhere to come to have a night off cooking, and spend a cheerful hour or two eating or drinking with friends. There are always plenty of food stalls: couscous, paella, oriental stir fries, pizzas, barbecued meats….. Bring your own knives and forks, don’t forget the corkscrew, find a place at a communal table, sit down and enjoy!
Well, that was what we planned for yesterday. Then it started to look grey. Soft warm raindrops slowly started to drop intermittently from the sky. With no food in the house, we had to go anyway. We knew we’d be alone. The French seem to have no appetite, like we Brits, who are used to such things, for hiking in the rain, or market shopping in a storm. In the past, we’ve been victim of the cancelled walks, we’ve seen the empty market squares.
This time, we were wrong. We chose a spot at a table under a row of plane trees which sheltered us from the worst of the rain, bought our food, opened our wine, and tucked in as we got gradually damper and damper. We people-watched: there were plenty of people to watch. We saw others doing the same. We saw families arrive with their cool boxes, determinedly striding through the puddles. We saw chivalrous men standing with opened umbrellas protecting the rest of their party from the worst of the weather. We laughed and shared the fun with our neighbours at table as the rain got heavier and heavier. Obé’s paella has never tasted better.