27
Sep 04

MON DIEU, C’EST UN RIP OFF!

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MON DIEU, C’EST UN RIP OFF!

The French market held in Glasgow on Saturday as part of the Merchant City Festival looked promising. A long row of colourful stalls stretched the length of Candleriggs and only the addition of a couple of peasants walking around carrying live chickens by their feet would have made it more authentic. They were even selling gaudy homewares (glass roses in rainbow colours, mmm) and items of clothing nobody in their right mind would purchase.

Strictly following my mother’s marketing technique, I trailed round every single stall before making a purchase. There were Breton cakes, steaming pots of proven’ale potatoes, shiny red tomatoes, tubs of pure pork brawn and interesting vests that looked like they should fit a baby, but which magically expanded to the kind of size which would cover the chest of the average lady. I bought none of these, but I did acquire the following: six figs, three peaches, four almond squares, two chunks of cheese, some pat’ de campagne and a wild boar saucisson.

The saucisson stank out the bus on the way home and by the time I got it all into my kitchen, my mouth was watering. I’d picked up some bread from my friendly local organic baker, so I thought the pat’ would be a good start. It was a reassuringly coarse, chunky looking thing and the lady had given me the slice off the end which I, in my naivety, had thought would be the choice cut. You see, I’m the kind of girl who likes the crust of the bread, the skin on the custard and blackened sausages. Oh dear. This stuff was so overcooked I couldn’t even squish it onto the bread and the dark edge tasted like gravy browning. I had a go at a couple of figs for dessert, but they were dry and sandy and tasted of nothing.

By this point I was feeling suspicious about the standard of produce I might have bought from the other stall holders, so I had a taste of everything to check I hadn’t been ripped off. The saucisson was so garlicky I couldn’t have known whether it contained wild boar or swamp rat. The almond squares were sweet and crumbly, but I soon realised that only their shape differentiated them from the almond fingers you can buy cheaply from any supermarket. The peaches were enormous and juicy, but almost tasteless. Only the cheeses were good – 250g each of Tom de Savoie and Comt’ – but I’d paid six quid for them.

I can’t imagine that any market trader worth his salt wouldn’t have a taste of his fruit before buying it from his supplier, let alone putting it out for sale. I really hate to think that some of the stall holders had brought across the goods they couldn’t sell to their regular French customers to flog to eager Brits at inflated prices. I’m kicking myself for trusting a trader who will sell me a rotten bit of pat’ because she knows she can get away with it. Let’s face it, I was blinded by the exotic novelty of a French market in Glasgow. What I should have done is take the bus up Great Western Road to buy exactly the same things from Roots & Fruits and I J Mellis, probably a good deal cheaper. The next time this girl goes to a French market, it will be in France.

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