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Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Shop Narbonne Market for tastes of the south of France

The Marche covered market in Narbonne is open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. seven days a week.

When I stepped into the covered market in Narbonne, in the south of France, I thought I'd look for horse, which I understand is eaten in France.
Not that I was thinking of buying it, mind you, just to see if it was being sold.

Not being a  French speaker, I sought other more visual keys to what was what. But among the meat vendors, no horse was to be found.
But I found fresh wiggly eels for sale and had to wonder how they prepare them in this part of the world. I enjoy eating smoked eel as sushi but that's the only way I've had it and haven't a clue what's involved in making eel for dinner.

The 100 year old Marche, as it's called, is open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. every day and is  just about the same age as our own West Side Market. The extraordinary market in Cleveland is the one by which I measure all other markets and I seek them out wherever I travel.

Small tables are among the vendor stands in the market for those who just can't wait for lunch.

I saw folks eating lunch at tables within the market and thought that might be a good effort for the one in Cleveland.
If I ever return to the Languedoc region it likely will be to rent a boat and cross the south of France on the Canal du Midi, which you'll be able to read about on Sunday in Travel. The Robine Canal, which runs through the middle of Narbonne, hooks up with the Canal du Midi and is itself a likely looking waterway for an excursion like I hope to someday undertake.
The canals were built in the 1600s to transport the region's wine from the Mediterranean areas to the Atlantic Ocean, where the  wine was loaded on ships and carried to England and America. These engineering wonders were replaced by the railroads as a means of transportation and are today devoted mostly to tourism.  
An olive vendor offers me a taste of her picholine olives, a specialty of the Languedoc region in the south of France. 

When I return as a tourist, instead of a travel writer, I will provision my boat at the covered market in Narbonne, if I can. First on my list will be picholine olives, the lovely green fruit to which I was introduced by  Anne Collard, when I walked her land and saw her vineyards at Chateau Mourgues de Gres. I wrote about that in an earlier travel section which you can read at Anne told me then that  picholine olives are harvested for eating in late September or early October, while those destined to be pressed into olive oil are harvested later, in November and December. Younger olives make a fruitier oil, she told me, while older ones make a sweeter and somewhat darker oil.

Hand made goat and sheep cheeses shaped in rounds and logs tempt shoppers

Local cheese will also have a place on my market list in Narbonne, where dozens of round and oval goat and sheep's cheeses were nestled behind a chilled and glass covered counter.
A shopper makes her choices among dozens of kinds of cheese.

I envied those who were shopping, because I was on the go and  without a cooler for perishables.

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