Monday, October 24, 2011
Marche Place Du President Wilson
Not knowing exactly where the market started afforded me the opportunity for these photos taken just outside the Trocadero metro station. It turned out to be fortuitous in terms of my photos of the Eiffel Tower, since the Trocadero is the perfect place to capture a sunrise view and it was early enough in the day to find beautiful light.
Avenue President Wilson was not without its own charms. The avenue itself was very wide and lined with mature trees. The Beaux Arts buildings were beautifully detailed. As I looked around I could not imagine this being anyplace other than Paris. Visiting the markets is a pleasurable activity, but the early morning walks that they elicit are pleasures in themselves. The earlier you start out for the market, the less traffic you will see and you will have the city mostly to yourself. It's a perfect time to reflect upon what you've seen and done so far.
The top end of the market was just passed metro Iena. Starting there would be shorter and you could still see the picturesque Place D'Iena with its equestrian statue, but I wouldn't give up that view of the Eiffel Tower early in the morning just to save 5 to 10 minutes. The marche only stretches one very long block to Place Du L'Alma and another metro stop, but is seems immense. The produce was more varied than other markets with many "usual suspects" but some much more exotic vegetables. There also seemed to be more take-away food, so a quick lunch is quite possible and perhaps necessary if you combine a trip to the market with a look into Musee Guimet, the Asian art museum, or the modern art museum, Musee D'Art Moderne De La Ville De Paris, located on either end of the market. If I had been looking at my map instead of my notes, I would have been pleased to see the collections of both. Here is a photo essay of some of what is available at this market:
If staying for 3 days or more, I'm always tempted to buy some of the flowers in the markets for our hotel room. Just look at those gorgeous hydrangeas in shocking pink, lilac and blue.
For those of us trying to stretch travel dollars, these open air markets provide healthier options for breakfast than what some hotels offer. If our hotel doesn't have restrictions on food being brought into the room, I often like to buy fruit for a quick breakfast or snack. It is very seldom that we don't have fruit juice or yogurt in the room, especially with a refrigerator as a room amenity.
This group of items includes some quintessential French ingredients or foods. How could we live without French cheese, shallots, garlic, chanterelle mushrooms, or French bread? Croissants and pain au chocolat are certainly not essential food items, but what is life without a bit of indulgence?
I'd like to take full credit for the photos, but I'm afraid much of it goes to the produce vendors and their good eye for a still life. Some of these arrangements would make excellent subjects for the painters who still live and work in this city. If produce of this quality were always available, I suspect there would be fewer children who would not eat their vegetables. The colors alone would appeal to them. Of special note, Europeans are often able to buy some vegetables already cooked. I've seen many cooked beets in the markets in France and in Italy, cooked and drained spinach is very common. It would be easy to eat more beets if they're already cooked and peeled. What a luxury.
The most impressive of the market's offerings may just be the seafood. The fish are gloriously fresh with bright clear eyes and pink gills; they are all but writhing on the ice. Some of the crustaceans do wiggle, so it's all the freshest seafood available. Looking at the numerous species we do not see at home is intriguing and makes thoughts of renting an apartment with a kitchen all the more appealing.
While there are many vendors selling ethnic items, the Italians and Algerians always have a large presence in the French markets. It is sometimes difficult to tell them apart when it comes to olives and antipasto items, but the pastry items are easier to determine. Because there happens to be a photo of Setaro dried pasta, I'll put in a recommendation since it's the best Italian pasta I have personally used. I didn't buy any only because I've seen it cheaper in the U.S.
French pastry was also available at this particular market and the tarts looked especially good. It would be oh so easy to eat a daily fruit allowance this way, but somehow I don't think that's what nutritionists had in mind. Still, if you have to eat dessert, a fruit laced option has to be a good idea.
Products geared to carnivores were decidedly outnumbered by just about everything else one could eat. Except for the vendors selling sausage, there were slim pickings. Perhaps it was missed, but I don't even recall seeing a poultry vendor. I'm never adverse to eating game animals, but even I admit to being a bit disturbed by finding game birds riddled with buckshot at this market. I'm not certain I could order wild hare again without thinking of this last photo.
As with all markets, there were some vendors selling general market items that had little to do with food, with the exception of the pots and pans. All in all there were very few non food centric sellers at Marche President Wilson. The 100% wool throws in the last photo seemed a good price for 30 euro so one came home with me.
My cat will not leave it alone and can sleep on it for hours. I'm beginning to wonder if it is really 100% wool!
Some items being sold at the market are undeniably French in origin and I find myself drawn to these in particular. The small tart on the lower right photo became a quick lunch for me and there hasn't been a trip to France where I do not bring back French fleur de sel or sea salt. It is so expensive in the states and so very cheap in France, that I find it makes a great gift for friends who like to cook. Wouldn't that smoked duck breast make a wonderful small feast in a baguette? The French are very creative with preserves too. The grapefruit and rose flavor looked beautiful and I can't help wonder how it would taste. I suspect the rose takes the edge off of the grapefruit acidity. Again, that and some butter on a baguette would make a delightful French breakfast.
Nuts, pulses, grains, dried fruits, seeds, herbs and spices, various salts; you could refresh your entire pantry in this one location. The number of herbs and spices, along with herbal teas and spice blends that were being offered was mind boggling. I've saved the best for last. Below are photos of all the prepared foods that you can purchase to take away or eat right then and there.