Farmer markets are inspiring, invigorating and thrilling – anywhere you find them. And when you find them in the big cities – New York, Los Angeles, Paris, London – they seem even more phenomenal, perhaps because those of us who live in these busy, often impersonal and mostly stressful cities are so removed from simple and natural elements – fresh root vegetables still smelling of the moist earth, flowers still vibrant from the country winds, seafood glistening in their liquid freshness.
Even after a solid week of coming down with a cold, coughing and feeling dizzy most days, I was not about to miss out on my Sunday fix. I try to get out to a farmer’s market at least once a week, and if I can’t make it to my neighborhood Saturday market at la Place d’Auteuil in the 16th arrondissement, I will make it a weekend mission get out to visit the other neighborhood market and take in all that they have to offer. The market at la Bastille extends from the roundabout and stretches to the Canal. The stalls there are more divers than one finds in most markets, and along with the fresh vegetables, fish and flowers, there were stalls brimming with prepared dishes from West Africa, fresh cous-cous and sweet nut pastries from Morocco, cured meats and dried cod from Portugal, and hand made pastas and sauces from Italy. And I love everything about it. The loud fishmogers shouting their newly lowered prices in every direction. The large lady from Normandy with a egg-only stall selling eggs of all shapes and sizes. The cheese stall with fresh goat cheeses and camembert so strong that it makes your eyes well up in tears like chopped onions. It is all positive energy, all so alive – even with the old ladies elbowing you to push you out of the line so they can pay first – casting such a luminous feeling on a Sunday morning, that you forget that you are in the middle of a steel-grey city buzzing with busses, motorcycles and cars. You feel like you are in the thick of farmer’s land, forever infused with fresh blooms, the freshest catch and in-season vegetables.
For kids, markets are a great way to discover food, have decision making roles in what they will eat, and have fun choosing.
Magnus, the Batman that he is, helped me inspect the stalls, figure out what we needed for the week and decided on our Sunday supper – lobster with Tiep, a Senegalese rice dish with vegetables and fish. We went to a fish stall, and saw a steel-blue lobster, and suddenly he decided that he would eat a lobster that night.
“I love seafood, you know that, Mommy?”, he said, and insisted on buying the lobster right there and then. Lobster is not high in DHA Omega 3, but contains high amounts of Vitamin B12, important for brain function, and is a good source of protein, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and other vitamins and minerals. More than anything, it is for the flavor and texture that I feel is important for kids to be exposed to. It is soft, tender, and has a delicate flavor like no other. It is a great culinary and sensory adventure for your child.
The peppery tiep, a broken rice dish cooked in tomatoes and palm oil (which deserves its own post) was a perfect side-dish, and with just a pot of water to boil the lobster and a lemon butter with delicate Fleur de Sel (Sea salt crystals), we were in business for a beautiful Sunday supper.
Lobster with Lemon Butter with Fleur de Sel
1 large lobster
1 stick butter
Zest and juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon Fleur de Sel or Sea salt
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the lobster and boil for 7-10 minutes of until the lobster turns completely red.
2. remove the lobster from the water and drain.
3. In a small saucepan, combine the butter with lemon zest and juice and let it melt. Take off the heat and add the salt. Stir to combine.
4. Serve warm, crack it open with your hands, and enjoy.