Wednesday, September 13, 2006

to market, to market

to market, to market
Originally uploaded by vivi en france.
I bought this stereotypical French shopping basket last winter at the weekly market in our town. It's so much nicer than carting around a huge plastic shopping bag for making grocery runs on foot, and is the perfect size for picking up enough food for two or three meals between my big grocery shopping trips with the car.

In France, it's becoming less and less common for grocery stores to offer any kind of bags for packing up your groceries at the check-out (I can only think of one chain that still offers plastic bags!), but all offer recycled/reusable plastic bags in various sizes for usually around one euro. Some folks just pack their groceries back in their shopping cart and either throw everything in their cars or pack them up in bags just before putting them in their cars. I can only guess that they do this so they don't take too much time bagging their groceries and holding up the line at the check-out (remember: there are no bag boys in France!).

After two years of struggling at the check-out, I've got my own system down, which involves opening up my two big plastic bags just after all my groceries are loaded onto the conveyor belt and throwing them into the open bags as soon as they've been scanned by the clerk (who is comfortably sitting down, by the way. As a former check-out girl, I wish they'd offer this option for clerks in the States!). Nine times out of ten, I'm all caught up by the time the clerk is telling me the total and asking for my carte de fidélité.

If you're wondering what type of greens are popping out of my basket, you might be surprised to know (if you live in France, anyway) that they are celery stalks! Celery stalks are pretty rare in France (on more than one occassion, a check-out clerk has asked me what they are!) as celery root - which tastes exactly the same! - is much more popular. Whenever I find celery stalks (which is called céleri branchée in French), I'll buy it and make some chicken salad or tuna fish sandwiches or lentil chicken stew or chicken stir fry (chicken is pretty much a staple in this house!). My only complaint is that it is rarely crisp or fresh. It's quite bendy, actually. At least it still tastes the same when it's all chopped up!

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