23 May 2009

One-upping the farmer's market

A lot of little UK towns and villages are “market towns”; that is, public markets are routinely held there. Lots of traveling merchants sell various goods, and lots of local farmers come around to hawk their produce. These guys are often entertaining as they shout out pitches regarding their goods and the price (which gets cheaper nearer to closing time), and throw in the occasion silly claim as to the properties of the goods they sell, curing everything from scurvy to unattractiveness.

But what really makes the markets shine isn't the farmers-- it's the people who come in from the continent to fill the stalls for the European specialty markets. French markets, Italian markets, Greek; every specialized market is wall to wall with vendors who've carted their goods across the channel, and the stuff they bring along is absolutely wonderful. You can't find stuff of this caliber in much of the UK; forget about the US at all. If you get a chance to attend a French or Italian market, it's a good idea to skip breakfast, since you'll want to try all the offered samples or snarf up some of the freshly prepared food cooked before your eyes. This goes a long way to explain my need for larger trousers.

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