Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Foodie's Paradise

Toulouse, France. 
After spending a weekend in the south of France with my better half, I was both full and satiated by the aromas, tastes and sights of Toulouse. I roamed around the streets of Toulouse, weaving my way in and out of the hidey-hole streets tucked away in dark, romantic corners, finding delightful pastries, bursting with croissants and espresso sipping Frenchies. I stumbled onto a great find, the Les Restaurants de Victor Hugo Market, which is  a food lover's paradise! The moment I stepped in, I thought, there needs to be a Top Chef food challenge here. Surrounded on its outsides by a rather unattractive parking lot but also by stands and rows and columns of fresh vegetable and fruit sellers. The fruit lured me in. Fresh strawberries and plumply green grapes called my name. How could I resist? The mere temptation of culinary delights was too much to handle, and I hadn't even stepped into the market yet. My heart soared a little as I walked through the doors of the market. To my right, piles of fresh fish with their little eyes glaring right back up at me. Yes, that fresh. Crayfish and crabs and lobsters wriggled in their crates and men stood behind the ice covered fish shouting prices and negotiating in luscious French tones. To my left, the meat men roared their prices out, dominating the softer fish sellers. Sausage, pork, beef, literally any kind of meat and any part of that kind of meat was available, fresh, red, and quite frankly, so culinarily appetizing I couldn't even be grossed out about the abundance of raw meat in front of me. I was so excited to see pork! (See there is no pork in Turkey. And no pork=no bacon!) Around the corner, I found the CHEESE. I now know what addiction is. French cheese is lush. It is smelly. And it is goooood. I wandered in and out of the cheese shops, tasting little bits, getting a whiff the famous stinkers of the French cheese. Drooling a little, I was so engrossed in the cheese, that I didn't notice the fresh bakery section that had appeared in front of me. Oh yes. Bring on the croissants. And pies. And tarts. Thank heaven I don't live in this country. I would be a giant food inhaler! The fresh smells of hot bread wafted through the air, luring in its unsuspecting patrons, necessitating its purchase. Like me. I think I bought something from every pastry shop. Except the fresh crepe makers. I was able to pass by without pulling out my wallet. And then the wine sellers appeared. At this point, I was so overwhelmed by the lush Frenchness of everything, I had to resist. I just couldn't. Financial sense took me over, and I left the market, a satisfied and intrigued woman, determined to discover the generational secrets of French cuisine. I think culinary school may be in my future. 

rows upon rows of French cheese 
the first pork I've seen in months 

Classic French breakfast: espresso & croissant 

outdoor market in Toulouse, France
the vegetable sellers displaying their goods proudly

the scariest looking crabs I've ever seen...check out the spikes! 

French seafood...the possibilities are endless 

cow tongue. (which is actually a favorite of mine)

the speciality cheese stores lured me in

picnicking on the river shores of Toulouse 

the arrival of spring and all things fresh 

Nadim and I in Toulouse, 2012

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