My life in the south of France is measured by basket. Basket after basket, creaking under the weight of perfectly ripe produce and locally made goodness, redolent of earth and sun. Here are some of the marchands who have filled my baskets and larder, year in and year out.
Erwan is a traiteur extraordinaire, and my go-to guy for years now. He sharpened his knives and his wit in the brasseries of Paris for years before heading out to the province for fresh air and friendlier people. He makes a magnificent cured, roasted turkey, more tender than you can believe, rubbed with herbs and unlike anything I've ever had, anywhere else. He makes lots of things, fine free-range roast chickens, paprika legs, seasonal specialties (like Camargue beef), a mean sausage. I could go on, but his turkey (on the bone) is what keeps me coming back. He calls it jambonette de dinde, and he is holding some in the photo. I so wish you could taste a morsel.
The queue was as usual, way too long for Christophe, my neighbor and one of my main cheese sources. You can see him in the background. He makes long, meandering trips to cheesemakers he knows, returning with treats from the Lozere, the Basque Pyrenees, and points well beyond. When he isn't selling cheese and sausage, he is playing petanque--in the summer anyway. The rest of the year, he hunts wild boar. His Basque Tomme de Brebis, a ewe's cheese from the mountains, can make you temporarily lose the power of speech. I kid you not.
If you have been reading me for awhile, you may be familiar with Claudie. She is a pelardon queen, with a very loyal following of customers; I have made pilgrimages to her farm to watch her and her husband turn goat milk into the signature cheese of our region. She gives me eggs and extra cheese, I give her plants from the garden. And cookies.
These people are as much the Cevennes as the sycamores in the village, the dramatic views, the cigales and the crows stealing my figs. It just wouldn't be the same without them.
I'll be seeing them all again, during the next school holidays.