If Terence Conran could sell French country style to the English in the 20th century, why shouldn't I sell English patisserie to the French in the 21st century?
If only it were that easy. I hadn't reckoned on French bureaucracy, weather and good old xenophobia. But hey, life on the traditional French markets is full of surprises so I thought I should share them with the wider world.
After 20 years living in the centre of uber style-conscious London, I shipped out to live in the rural bliss of west central France, leaving all semblance of chic and style behind me together with my manicured nails to live in muddy boots and ripped jeans to work on the 'renovation of our French country ruin'. Eventually finding a need for contact with humanity in whatever form, I came upon the idea of selling fairy cakes to the French. Only problem was; I didn't have a kitchen!
This blog will be a document to the success, or otherwise of my enterprise along with the tales, trials and emotional rollercoasters of life on the market in France. I hope you will enjoy.......

quintessentially English

quintessentially English
........but in France!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

New additions

In the world of commerce they say that one must constantly update and innovate. I have grasped the bull by the horns and invested in some supplementary products for my 'typically English' look on my market stall. This week I launched the 'design and decoration' department in my very small way! When the box arrived with my 'nouveautes' I was jumping up and down with excitement at my treasures; patchwork union jack bunting, embroidered pink chiffon fairycake coat hooks, ceramic sugar pots in the shape of cupcakes, all pretty and very english! But, how to display them? My usual cake table lies flat and would not show off my objects to advantage , so I considered clamping display stands to the table and even hand painting boxes to match my pastel coloured union jack table! This all seemed very complicated and time was running out when my good friends the 'optimistic baker' and his wife arrived to ask if I would be interested in a display table that folds flat, but opens as a stepped display unit - serendipity is really one of my favorite words!
So I was all set this week for my new look stall. I call my friend the 'optimistic baker' because he has been in so many sticky situations and always comes out smiling and convinced that he will one day conquer the world. My very first day on the market was a spring day, and I had my little picnic table, some cakes and very little else, of course it started to rain and I was ready to pack up and go home when the 'optimistic baker' offered to shelter me and my cakes under his parasol, so began a friendship that has really helped me and my business to get going. The 'optimistic baker' is a fantastic market salesman with the gift of the gab and a smile for even the most miserable customers. He gained kudos by having the 'petite anglaise' on his stall and I gained sales by being allied with the best selling baker on the market. The 'optimistic baker' and his wife worked seven days a week, running a village bakery and also selling on five different markets during the week, living on about three hours sleep a day and adrenalin, the pair were a formidable force, undercutting the prices of other bakeries, and still managing to produce really great bread. The drawback ( or maybe not) of being with the 'optimistic baker' was that I became privy to all the personal history of their relationship and business. One of the first thing he told me, almost with a sort of perverse pride, was that his wife had cheated on him and that he was sexually very inexperienced. I was a little thrown by this, and wondered if it was some kind of chat-up line, but no, it seems that he told everyone the story, and his wife too was very open about the affair. The more disturbing moment came when he started telling me about their 'swinging' evenings and wondered if my husband and I might be interested! Wife swapping not being quite my style I declined, but the flood gates were opened and stories of visits to clubs and strange dinner parties began to come out. It seems that this was the 'optimistic baker' s way of accepting infidelity in his marriage without actually having to cuckold his wife who he loves dearly, I'm not sure that I understand the attraction of a swingers club, but it is certainly a way of brightening up a rainy morning on the market to hear of low lit corners with copulating strangers draped over the furniture! More on life and love on the market to come, in the meantime I leave you with a typical spring sunshine picture - blue skies and mock orange blossom, a perfect combination.

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