Today, at an unreasonably early hour, I went to the airport to pick up my UROP from her flight and get her settled into her dorm in the 6th. I actually impressed myself with the amount of French I spoke to the lovely director of the dorm, who spoke no English. I managed to translate a contract, explain what we were doing in France, and help my UROP with the front door procedures. My French might not be elegant in any sense of the word, but I know enough to occasionally make myself understood.
One of the benefits of being awake so early was that I managed to go to the local market down the street from me. Think of your stereotypical open-air French market. This was it and so much more! Not only did vendors sell fruits and vegetables, but they also set up with all sorts of other foods as well, and even a few clothing purveyors.
Fishes, sausages, and cheeses were on display as well. The smells and sounds were amazing. Some of the stands had lines around the aisles for them, but for me, who was not as patient or picky, there were plenty of other stalls where the owners would call out to you as you walked by, trying to get you to buy something.
Everything was so accessible. There was no saran wrap. Trust me, those fish ALL had their heads on. Even the meats were quite identifiable. (Ok, the sausages not so much). It made me wish I had a real kitchen to use here, to experiment and taste and enjoy all of these incredible foods. What is a Lyon sausage? How about different kinds of dried fruits? (Yes, there was a dried-fruits stall). I attempted to restrain myself and only bought what I considered absolutely necessary for today. I got a baguette (huge, rustic, and amazing). I bought some cherries (cerises) and two bananas (bananes). Then I decided to be brave with my tiny French vocabulary and when there was no line at the cheese stall, I asked very politely (and quite brokenly) for the woman to please choose a cheese to go with my baguette. She smiled (oh, they are really quite nice to foreigners!) and walked me to the soft cheese section of the case. There she gave me a sample of the most delectable soft cheese I've ever tasted. I have no idea what it was (I was so busy savoring it I forgot to ask). But for 3.80 E it was mine! And now I'm at home and curled up with my computer, with the windows closed and the shades drawn to try to keep the flat cool. I'm nibbling the baguette and the cheese. Its amazing. Its heaven. Do I really have to go home?