Au Marché: To the market in Provence in May
Some of the sweetest moments in Provence can be found at the market. Especially a village market where one comes to know the vendors at most of the stands and the transaction is not a transaction at all, but rather a chat and catch-up about children, the weather, and delicious recipes for the ingredients on display. It is a social affair. The old dames of the village dress in their best for the Friday morning market where we live.
Each market in Provence gives a different flavor of seasonal offerings. Piles of fruits and vegetables are everywhere, some still dirty from being pulled from the ground. Flowers, bread, woven baskets, linens and the famous savons of the region are all also for sale.
May brings peas, asparagus, strawberries and fresh garlic. I've only ever eaten fresh garlic in Provence. When it is in season here, it is a celebration every spring. One of the best and simplest ways to prepare fresh garlic (of course I learned this method at the market) is to cut the stem and just the top of the head of garlic to expose the cloves. Drizzle them with olive oil, a bit of coarse salt and herbes de Provence. Wrap loosely in tin foil and roast for 30-40 minutes. It's divine.
It is worth witnessing a warmhearted Provence community coming together to fête the fare du marché. Every village hosts its weekly market (sometimes bi-weekly) on a different day, so there is always a market ready to offer its wonders. Here is a link to a list of villages and their corresponding market days. Remember the early bird gets the worm, an adage that holds true in Provence…the best produce is found in the early hours.