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!

Monday, November 22, 2010

My return to the French market scene was heralded by the announcement that the local Mairie has decided to completely redevelop the town square over the winter season. of course this threw everyone into a turmoil and the main topics of conversation on the market were
1. What a waste of money
2. Why were the traders not consulted ?
3. How would they fit a whole market into half the square?
4. Who would we be put next to ?
5. Will the cafe stay open for breakfast!?

Apparently this has been planned for a long time, but we were not informed until the last minute about the elaborate plans for new grass, cobbles and a re-vamped fountain. The merry-go-round lady was consulted as they are creating a hard standing for her equipment, so she won't have to prop up the merry-go-round on piles of wooden blocks any more due to the uneven surface, (which always made me nervous!) Unfortunately, in typical French builders style,they have not allowed space for her little cabin and motor, so she still isn't sure how it will work!
Last week we were all moved to our respective new positions, and chaos followed of course with vans, cars and trailers backed up along the main street waiting to offload and set up, so that eventually our local 'Policier' who is responsible for the on the ground organisation on market days, had to emerge from his cosy office to direct traffic and 'speak kindly' to the idiots who had left vans blocking the way both to the market square and to the parking area! The market organisers have kept the established groups of traders together, so I am still with my girlfriends, but our organic vegetable lady ( I mix up the French 'Bio' and english 'organic' to make a 'bionic' veg lady!) found herself standing in the pouring rain in a puddle almost up to her ankles, the poor thing had plastic bags, recycleable of course, over her feet tied on with baler twine! She completely flipped when the policier's reaction was that she should just wear wellies like she would on her farm, rather than allocate her a new space! Even 'bionic' farmers have the right to a little glamour when in town I think!
I'm quite happy with my space as it is at the end of the market, so I can make a quick getaway if I need to, which I did the other day when the rain was so awful that after our morning coffee the consensus of opinion amongst us was that it would be pointless to get our heavy canvas parasols wet for nothing, only to have them drying in the shed for days afterwards, so we finished breakfast and all went home!
The shame was that I had finally perfected my lovely rose cupcakes with their dreamy pink topping, so they didn't get their first outing that day. As I don't have a refrigerated display, I can't use fresh cream products on my cakes, so mascarpone cream toppings are out of the question, but I have discovered this lovely meringuey topping which I have scented with rose water as a lighter substitute for cream frosting, and it keeps longer too!
The Christmas season is upon us already and I have ordered some lovely gifty things to add to my stand, notably red velvety flocked reindeers with little gold bells, cake sparklers and mini christmas puddings, I have subscribed to the annual Christmas Market in the larger town a few miles away, where I will be sharing a little wooden chalet with my friend who sells candles and wooden gifts, so at least we know we will be in the warm for three weeks, but, it's a commitment of seven days a week, over the holiday period, so we need to make it work for us!

1 comment:

  1. So glad to see your return. This would have been a long winter without my sojourn to life in France. Ah, your cake toppings are making me hungry....I must eat!