Today is the first day of the rest of Marcel and Mercedes Resseguier’s lives. Today (barring the odd holiday) is the first Tuesday for 28 years on which they haven’t opened their charcuterie (like most small-town shops, they didn’t open on a Monday). At 60, Marcel’s retiring.
Their shop is a bit of an institution hereabouts. Go to an event where food is served and discover that the plates of cold meats, pâtés and cured sausage are from the Resseguiers’ shop, and you’ll be piling your plate high with all that’s on offer. Go to buy some sausages for an easy lunch, and you’ll join a queue of customers chatting away animatedly as they patiently wait their turn. What will we do without them? They’re not trying to sell it on – no point.
Once upon a time, theirs was a busy shopping street. Nowadays, it’s (oops, was) the only shop left. Still 2 butchers remain in town here however. Nearby Lavelanet, a town that’s more than twice as big as ours has only one, Marrotte.
When he was 14 ½, Marcel went to Limoux, apprenticed to a butcher’s where he learnt all he needed to learn about the butchery business. And then he came back to the Ariège to work at the above mentioned Marotte’s. This shop sells not only fresh meat, but charcuterie too: in other words fresh sausage, cured sausage, hams both dried and cooked, and pâtés: mainly, but not exclusively, pork products. Working here, Marcel realised that, for him, charcuterie was a lot more interesting than presenting fresh meat for sale, and he profited from his time there to learn all he could.
A little later, after his short spell in a general stores with a meat-counter in nearby Villeneuve d’Olmes, the charcuterie here in Laroque came up for sale. A certain Monsieur Vié owned it. His son Michel is a pillar of our town, involved in everything from singing in the local choir to supporting our local town-twinning operation. He didn’t want to go into his father’s business, but like so many people round and about, he’s learnt many of the skills, and will often knock up some cured sausages or a bowl or two of pâté for a family celebration.
Well, Marcel, with his father’s help, bought the shop, together with the good-will and customer-base that came with it. The rest is history. The charcuterie is hard to find, being tucked away in a side-street where it’s almost impossible to park. But that didn’t stop it being a shopping destination. Once there, apart from all the expected meats and sausages, you could buy his tins of jarret de porc or jars of pâté de foie, as well as wine or bottled vegetables. His was a depot de pain too. So he’ll be missed, as will Mercedes, his wife, who served the customers and balanced the books. Happy retirement, Marcel. Enjoy your new career Mercedes (that’s another story) …. and see you on the next Sunday walk with Laroque’s walking group.