a day at the market
March 24, 2009
The landscape is awash with colour. The air is alive with the cries of vendors hawking their goods. I pause and take a deep breath, my senses overwhelmed with the smells, sights, and sounds of summer. The sweet scent of ripe figs is shattered by a sharp piercing hit of a hundred cloves of garlic, just as quickly forgotten as pungent wild mushrooms take over, only to be swept away by a stinging sensation and a mouthwatering zing as I spot a curtain woven of chili peppers. This is just another day at the Jean-Talon Market, but for me it is a day in paradise.
The sweltering concrete jungle that is summer in Montreal is momentarily forgotten as I find respite in this cool oasis. At least this is how I remember it. It is now the tail-end of winter in Vancouver, when the endless cold and rain is bringing me to the end of my rope. All that keeps me going are warm, steamy days in the kitchen, and the thought that the luscious Westcoast spring is just around the corner. I’ve just stumbled across a CD of photos that I had taken while visiting Montreal last August, the first stage in a journey that culminated in my walk across Spain (more on that another time).
I’d altogether forgotten about my day at the market in Montreal, and it has reminded me of the simple joys of good, fresh produce; this comes as a pleasant reminder at a time when my diet consists mostly of oatmeal, various incarnations of pasta, and meat. There is still produce available, but it’s either the anemic, flavourless variety that’s been shipped half-way across the world, or it is the ultra-expensive boutique variety found at Wholefoods and other such designer grocery stores. Since I’m currently unemployed, the latter is not of much use to me, as I spend what little money I do have on overpriced organic, free-range, grass fed, cruelty-free meat and specialty pastas extruded through copper by artisans in Italy (see Heston Blumenthal’s episode on the perfect bolognese). As such, my vegetable intake is fairly limited right about now, my skin is yellowing, and I am longing for the fresh abundance of the summer crops. Until then, I will hopefully absorb what vitamins I can by gazing longingly at these photos.