Still Life With Lunch, the Final Chapter

Freiburg was our favorite place of all. Not only is a beautiful university town with a stunning cathedral, all located with in (in my opinion) the best part of the Black Forest, but our hotel was right on the cathedral square and that square hosts a six-hour farmer’s market six days a week. The market extends all around the cathedral in a two-sided hoop, with gustatory delights on either side. It was plum season. It was cherry season. It was the season for every other summer fruit delight. We were seduced by the cheese stands and by the meat and sausage counters and looked (but alas, did not purchase anything) at the smoked fish cart.

Every day, as soon as we had finished working our way through the bountiful breakfast spread inside the hotel, we’d venture out into the market and buy food for lunch and/or dinner. Before we left, one of my colleagues had scoffed, saying “what use is a farmer’s market—you won’t have a kitchen.” This is undeniably true—our hotel room was a bedroom only—but to think that nothing for sale at a farmer’s market could be edible until transformed by cooking is nonsense. We bought cherry tomatoes, covered with golden speckles and more flavorful than I’ve ever had. We bought tiny gherkin cucumbers, meant for making cornichons, and ate them by the handful, like popcorn. We bought sweet, earthy carrots and tongue-numbing radishes—once we even bought radishes thinking that they were carrots! We bought innumerable kinds of cheese: weinkase, blue, sheep’s brie, chevre coated with pink peppercorns (excellent when spread on a perfect apricot), and once, a tiny, perfect thimble-sized container of crème fraiche. Nothing has ever been better on a strawberry. We investigated various meat stands, buying heavily smoked ham, lightly smoked ham, and various kinds of dried sausages. We bought olives, we bought pickles, we bought nuts; we ogled, but did not buy, spices, plants, eggs, and the most beautiful mushrooms I’ve ever seen. (I made up for this last by ordering chanterelles fried in butter in every restaurant that served them. It was the most worthwhile expensive passion I’ve ever acquired). We had four days to try as much from the market as we could, and we barely skimmed what was there. Every market-based meal we had was perfect—we would have happily eaten every meal there. Next time we visit, though, we will have a kitchen (I don’t know how, but we will); those eggs are calling to me.

Published in: on July 16, 2007 at 9:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

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