Monday, September 9, 2013

This Little Piggy ...

... went to market, of course.

The hour was grave and great need was upon us, for I had not been to a market for two weeks and anyway we had run out of sweet chili sauce. So there was only one reasonable course of action, under the circumstances: rise at dawn, and head off to the market at Carcassonne.

Incidentally, I should avoid honouring Ambulances Tomasello, at Trèbes, with your patronage were I you. I have heard nothing against them and I am sure that their ambulances are as clean and hygienic as one could wish, their drivers also clean, and courteous: it's just that I couldn't help but notice, as we drove past, that they share the premises with a funeral parlour, and the possibility of a conflict of interest will come to mind. Just a word to the wise.

Fresh brains!
Should it interest you there is an underground carpark at place Gambetta, which is where you arrive if you come into Carcassonne by the nationale, so we parked there and found the marché Carnot by the simple expedient of following the hordes of old hags with shopping trolleys, all shambling erratically in more or less the same direction.

Did a quick stroll around the place just to case the joint and get an idea of what looked good, and then back around to actually do the shopping: I was very reasonable, I feel. Picked up some lovely tomatoes with flavour ("tomates de jardin, muries au soleil", the sign said, and they certainly taste like it), some ratte, delicate little yellow courgettes, a couple of decent salades and an enormous bunch of chives, some piments forts because they look so pretty and some shallots and spring onions.

And a big bunch of muscat grapes, to eat and to go into a dinner I'm planning at which Margo will frown and stamp her feet for she does not like fruit with meat, but tough titty.

Also, I must be losing it because I stopped off and bought some bio-organic bread, made with a mixture of standard wheat flour and sarrasin. Costs at least twice the price of a normal loaf, but is no doubt very worthy and will probably keep for months. But could do serious damage if you dropped it on your foot.

Then Margo went off to search around le marché des vetements to see what she could find whilst I trotted off to explore with the camera and, as luck would have it, came across les halles. And, because it's stronger than I, had to poke my nose inside. I think I can probably pass on the horse-meat, and on the pickled olives too to be quite honest, but there were a couple of butchers there with hampe, and the magret de canard at only 13 €/kg certainly looked good to me.

Do NOT feed the fish
All very well, but none of that did anything for my major problem - a lack of chili sauce - but with considerable forethought I'd taken the trouble to google épiceries asiatiques in Carcassonne the night before, and had noted down two addresses, the first of which we duly programmed into the GPS of Doom.

For some strange reason the thing always plays silly buggers and takes us down side-roads and into crooks and nannies not meant to be known by man (Margo tries to tell me that it's using what in its teeny cybernetic brain it feels to be the quickest route, I still reckon it's trying to kill us), but to my surprise it actually got us there, eventually.

And I am now a happy man, for they had my sauce, and Chinese sausages and frozen nems and spice mixture for barbecued pork and many other things, even if they had neither sucre rouge nor jaggery powder, which is a bit of a bummer.

What I really need to do now is to find somewhere that will sell me filo pastry, and I will be set up.

Completely off-topic, just outside our front door there is some sort of lavoir, or maybe it was a watering-trough for the horses, I don't know and don't much care. It was dry when we moved in and apparently has been so for some time, for one of the conseillers municipaux does not believe that children should be having fun, especially when it involves water.

Or it could be, if you're being generous, that he was terribly concerned about the responsibilité civile in case of a tragic water-related death, but that prospect doesn't seem to worry any other municipalité in France, and the received wisdom around here is that he's a miserable tight-fisted old grinch, which is why small children dance around his house singing "Sourpuss! Grumpyface!" ...

But I digress. The point is that in the middle of this waterless watering-hole there is a large chunk of concrete, or a plinth if you prefer, atop which there is a small marble statue of a young girl who is, if we can judge by the look on her face and the appearance of her feet, running bare-foot through a field of nettles whilst constipated. Also, wearing a night-dress.

Enquiring minds are not really much in favour around here, in case they start making enquiries on topics we'd rather not go into, such as "Where were you on the night of the 15th?" or "May I just take a quick look in the cellar?" but still, rules are for other people and we were curious ...

My own theory was that the mairie had had this plinth built, for no other reason than that the maire-adjoint could get concrete that probably wouldn't run in the rain at cost, and M. le maire's idiot nephew needed a summer job, and that was that: then, finding themselves with a plinth on their hands, realised that it cried out for a statue.

Not having one to hand they sent the idiot nephew off to the cemetery - just next door, as luck would have it, to the local orphanage - one wild rainy night to pick up something appropriate: off he went, the deed was done, and the very next day the astounded citizenry, burghers and bumpkins of Moux awoke to find the little girl, feet cemented firmly in place, adorning the hitherto pristine plinth.

By general acclamation and to loud applause the idiot nephew was made mayor for life on the spot, and the good people of the village returned to their usual pastimes, some of which - this being a small rural town - are too sordid to be recounted here. For this is, despite all evidence to the contrary, a family-oriented blog, which thinks seriously of the children. And not always in terms of a regular food supply.

Sadly, Margo is rarely content to leave what few illusions I may still have intact, and went about interrogating the villagers with determination; with vigour, vim, and a certain bloodthirsty gusto. The plain truth, which soon came out, is much less interesting, even mundane. It would appear that the statue in question, an 18th century work depicting Mary Mother of God™ as a child, was once harboured in an obscure niche in the church until, one day during the Occupation, a more-than-usually tasteless German officer took a fancy to it.

In my opinion they'd have been better off to let him take it and good riddance, but with pride and stealth they removed it and hid it, leaving him frustrated: being bumpkins, they forgot exactly where they'd buried it, given that one grape vine looks much like another (at least to my untutored eye). Also, being deported and/or shot doesn't exactly help your memory.

Eventually it did turn up - at what date, and under what circumstances no-one has yet said fit to say - and as its previous place in the church had been taken by a life-sized statue of Jezebel Pleasuring the Corinthians, the maire-adjoint did in fact have some almost-good cement that had definitely not fallen off the back of a lorry, and there was that bloody plinth, they stuck it up there, where it remains to this day.

Next week: Mysteries of Moux! What is being transported in the sinister black trailer that moves slowly through the streets at midnight? Who is the masked driver? What is that smell of kebabs and cat urine? Stay tuned for more incisive reporting from the bleeding edge.


  1. Eventually it did turn up - at what date, and under what circumstances no-one has yet said fit to say

    I know that story!

  2. but is no doubt very worthy and will probably keep for months. But could do serious damage if you dropped it on your foot.
    Sounds like dwarf bread to me. Was the purveyor short, bearded, & of indeterminate sex?