X in What?

Wow, things are sure heating up here in Seattle! Highs in my town of Issaquah are likely to hit above 90°F tomorrow. There’s a joke of sorts in Seattle that the good weather always starts on July 5th, one day after the Independence Day backyard Bar-B-Que celebrations get soaked, but that hasn’t happened in recent years. Anyway, all of this sun and summer weather and my recent participation in the Issaquah Farmers Market reminds me of the time I spent in the Provence region of France back in 2010, and of a fun photo shoot in the town of Aix-en-Provence (pronounced [ɛksɑ̃pʀovɑ̃s]).

Aix-en-Provence, or simply Aix (“X”), is a cute little university city just 30 km north of the coastal city of Marseille ([maʁ.sɛj]). Our photography workshop group showed up on Wednesday, which is market day in Aix (most towns have a weekly market, spreading the joy throughout the week – Wednesday was Aix’s day).

We arrived fairly early, as the town was just waking up. Folks were going to work, or having breakfast at sidewalk cafes. They do that a lot in France. We should do that more here in the states. I’m not talking about stopping at Starbucks to grab an expensive, overly complicated coffee-related beverage and a cold, hard scone to go. I’m talking about sitting down and enjoying just baked French bread and homemade jams served with the most amazing cup of simple, uncomplicated coffee you’ve ever had. Just thinking about what they have for breakfast in France makes my mouth water.

Narrow Street in Aix, Aix-en-Provence, France

A narrow street is still quiet in the early morning light, in Aix-en-Provence, France.

Anyway, we wandered around town for a bit while we waited for the market to open, finding interesting subjects here and there.

Statue in a Statue, Aix-en-Provence, France

This statue has a couple of surprises on his back side, in Aix-en-Provence, France.

We found statues and courtyards with ancient fountains, and little tiny streets and alleyways with murals painted on doors and walls.

Old Fountain in Aix, Aix-en-Provence, France

An old fountain is the central focus in this courtyard, in Aix-en-Provence, France.

Finally, it was time to locate the market, our primary subject for the day. We found fresh vegetables and fruits for sale, as you would expect to find at any market anywhere in the world.

Market Day, Aix-en-Provence, France

Every Wednesday is market day, in Aix-en-Provence, France.

But we also found things unique to the region, such as locally made cheeses and sausages. Chèvre, or goat cheese, was ubiquitous. And since it was Provence, it seems everything was coated with or topped with herbes de Provence. This herb blend, usually consisting of savory, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, and oregano, is fairly inexpensive in Provence, and is usually sold by weight out of huge jars at these markets. Or just thrown on top of everything.

Fagot au Fromage de Chevre, Aix-en-Provence, France

A variety of meats and cheeses are for sale at the market in Aix-en-Provence France.

As yummy as all of these treats are, don’t try to bring them back home with you. No, the Food and Drug Administration, in its infinite wisdom (and they are very wise – just ask them), has banned these delicious raw cheese and meat products from the U.S. No, they’re way to dangerous to be allowed in the country. So if you ever get a chance to go to France, you’ll have to get your fix while you’re there. And, of course, nothing will happen to you. Well, my lawyer says to tell you a lot can happen, but don’t listen to him. After all, you only live once! (That I know of.)

Bon appétit!

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3 Responses to “X in What?”

  1. Sue-Z says:

    C’est tres belle!

  2. Catherine says:

    Now I’m really hungry!!! For some reason I want cheese!