|Jambon sec du pays|
|The cheese platter|
The only downside, really, is that Chambéry is situated, like Grenoble, in a sort of
bowel bowl inbetween various mountain ranges and massifs: normally there's a constant flow of air from north or south which shifts things around but for the last two weeks all has been still and so the dump is smothered under a yellowish haze of pollution, trapped under some sort of thermocline or whatever it's called.
Of course, there's this Greek meteorological phenomenon called hubris, or something like that, which I suppose goes some way towards explaining why it was that, having written all about this marvellous weather, today dawned gray and drizzly. But not cold, and no sign of snow (except for a fine dusting up on the Belledonnes), and at least it wasn't actually raining as such as I trudged around the market, trying to avoid the joculators, mime artists and the old hags with shopping trolleys weaving precariously behind them.
|Probably, paella royale|
Of course I had to go past le Modesto and I'm afraid that the flesh is indeed weak for the smell of their ever-simmering dish of diots au vin blanc tempted me: so much so that I went off and bought a couple of diots at the market, en route for le Refuge. Which was kind of silly really, because the only person that will eat them around here is me, and even with the best will in the world I cannot stick away four of the things in a sitting.
|Great Cthullu: bad hair day|
(On the other hand, octopus really does not turn me on. Call me old-fashioned if you like, but with the notable exceptions of scallops and lobster I really do prefer my meat to have bones in it.)
And as luck would have it, I just happened to have a wee baby rougette and a beautiful crunchy baguette in the car (you can tell the boulangerie is good, the queue to get in goes around the corner and the carparks just in front are a clear and present danger) which, along with the wine (for not even I use a whole bottle for the diots) makes for a pretty good lunch.
In the new old building - for they've kept the grot façade, pointless exercise 'cos that was probably the ugliest bit - there's only about a quarter of the space available, the rest having been dished out to places like H&M and the FNAC. Now why they couldn't have stuck those on the upper floors, with escalators all over the place, and left the rest of the place to the market - which is, as they love to point out, open 5 days a week so it's not even as though the space is wasted - I will probably never know. Because I'm not an architect, nor a town planner. Happily.
|Mean-looking dead fish. Possibly daurade.|
So that in a little while, once I've discovered where everyone is these days (still haven't found the cheesemonger who does the batusson, hope he didn't get lost in the move), things will be good. Until, of course, the snow finally arrives, because now half the stands are outside, exposed to the elements. And believe me, trying to get small change out of your pockets when you've got gloves on is a breeze compared to trying the same act and at the same time trying to balance an umbrella over your head in a Siberian wind blowing sleet horizontally.
|Zombie lobsters, wanting dead fish BRANES!|
At which point, as I'll have the oven on anyway, and the filo already out, a pear pastis would seem to be called for. Which is tonight's dinner taken care of, at least.
Or so I thought, until Beckham - who'd been conspicuously absent from our midday libations - texted to invite us over for her 30th birthday party: the idea being, I suppose, to get the old folk tanked up and then pack them off home for their bedtime cocoa whilst she and the yoof celebrated in style.
|Bloody Corsican clementines|
It's a funny thing, but for some strange reason if you get a group of, let's say, thirty people, all of whom speak English and with maybe two or three native French-speakers in there, pretty soon everyone will be speaking French. Out of consideration? Don't know, and I rather doubt it, for the converse is definitely not true.
I think it's maybe some sort of stealthy cultural imperialism, with the poor oppressed French sneakily getting the anglo-saxon invaders to speak an obviously superior tongue.
|Pooey, so good!|
(Actually, I cannot for the life of me think why that lift is so damn small. You could possibly squeeze three people - close friends - in there at a time, but there's no way you could use it to shift any furniture bigger than a hat-stand. This fact alone may go some way to explaining why the French apartment-dwellers tend not to shift out once they've finally got their stuff in there. Also, perhaps, why when they are forced to move, they go about it seriously, with a sort of fire-engine style truck coming along with an enormous bloody telescopic ladder. Still a bitch getting the furniture out the windows, I guess.)
|Tomme des Bauges|
And now, I'm afraid, it's a dismal gray Sunday, with a ghostly silver light coming through the clouds down south behind Grenoble, and quite literally overnight all the leaves seem to have fallen off the trees. Which probably means that I should go down to the garden with a rake, but quite frankly I can't be arsed.
Come to that, there's all sorts of things I really should be doing, but somehow it's not really the right day to be doing them. I do dislike Sundays.
|You know this is honey, right?|
(Just in case you wondered, all the photos are from Saturday's market, taken with the faithful 35mm lens 'cos neither of the zooms will let me get in close enough when I want to. Also the lighting is kinda random - being a mix of neons, halogen spots, incandescents and, should the stall-holder feel like it, tallow candles or oil lamps - which makes getting the white balance right a bit of a hit-or-miss affair. So up to four or five shots to get one that's not tinted red, or blue, or too flat ... thank god for digital cameras, I say.)