My food and drinks column for the September issue of Reader’s Digest.
In An Omelette and a Glass of Wine (1984), Elizabeth David—the culinary author whose words and recipes revolutionised the way postwar Britain ate—devoted five chapters to the markets of France. Her evocative essays, penned for various publications between 1955 and 1984, transport us to sun-drenched villages as they come to life with the hustle and bustle of market day. Customers line up to buy freshly churned butter by the basketful in Yvetot, Normandy. In Montpellier, an elderly gentleman carefully selects tomatoes and artichokes, “one by one, as if he were picking a bouquet of flowers”. At the Saturday market in Valence, the scent of herbs and succulent peaches leaves little doubt that we’re at the gateway to southern France. For David, food markets reflected the culture and traditions of a region just as much as its respected museums, galleries and cathedrals. I couldn’t agree more.
Weeks before we set out to discover a new holiday destination, I take great pleasure in scouring the internet to map out an itinerary of local markets, including those held within a one-hour radius of the town we’re staying in. Markets are more than a place to shop for food (or run-of-the-mill souvenirs like soap, straw baskets and kitchen towels). They are an essential part of truly broadening our horizons. And isn’t that the reason to travel in the first place?
Read the full column, published in the September issue of Reader’s Digest UK, here: 124-127 (4)