Imagine food shopping down this street:
The French have a false friend with English – that’s a word that sounds the same but has a different meaning like ancien/ancient or sensible. Profiter. In English “to profit” is usually to make money. But in French the verb profiter means to enjoy. You’ll often hear people say “J’ai profité du soleil” – I enjoyed the sun – or “Profite bien de notre prix bas” – Enjoy our low prices. I guess a better translation would be “to take advantage of” but that has a negative connotation to it and I prefer to use enjoy.
But enjoy doesn’t have the same sound to it that profiter has. Enjoy is flat, it’s dull, it can sound – well a bit sad – if you don’t put a push of enthusiasm in your voice behind it.
Profiter, or profite on the other hand is exciting. Profiter! Profite! Said with an ee sound at the i and an ay sound when there’s the er is fun. It has it’s own joy and lifting lilt behind it and the word sounds happy even when you’re about to fall asleep. I want to start using it in English, let’s change the word “profit” to something that doesn’t have to do with money and all start profiting from more pleasant things.
The town where I now live (I’ve moved out of Toulon) is a traditional town. The morning market is exclusively a morning market. The vendors are set up out on the street everyday at 8:30 except Monday and they are gone by 12:30. The rest of the day the shops are closed, the street is quiet and cars have taken the place of fruit, vegetables and butcheries.
Sunday is the most crowded day, because Sunday is a day of rest, and what is more restful that a bit of shopping in the morning spring sun (it’s already 66°F outside) and then a big relaxing lunch on the balcony, followed by coffee and pastries.
The patisserie where I bought these little jewels was too packed for me to get a photograph of their stall. They are one of six bakeries on the main street where the market is, and every Sunday they pack their stall with cakes, pastries and tarts/pies that are – as Peter Mayle says – a dieter’s vision of hell.
Today, my search was for fruit. Now that it’s spring, strawberries are coming in from all over, but in France of course, and especially in Provence, nothing can outdo the strawberry from Carpentras. I also bought clementines and pears.
Friday the hubby went to the market on his own, buying eggplant, zucchini, onion, pepper, tomato, goat cheese and selle d’angeau. This is somewhere in the front of the lamb, the meat before the ribs I believe and contrary to the US, we bought it straight from our favorite butcher who trimmed and sliced it for two portions straight off the bone, and didn’t hygienically wrap it in Styrofoam and plastic: all for 6.80 Euros.
The hubby made a gratin of the goat cheese and vegetables – which he insisted I take a photo of before it went in the oven. Everything was roasted in the oven for 40 minutes and at lunch on the balcony with a bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape, Domain du Rempart 2005.
On the way home I stopped at the bakery that is closest to our apartment and by far my favorite. Ronde des Pains is actually a franchise and our particular bakers are fantastic. As with all bakeries the breads are fresh, but they do a pain aux cereal that is soft, sweet and irresistible. Not to mention they have the biggest tropezienne in the world.
It’s not just buying food on a Sunday morning – or any morning – that makes me praise this market to the world. It’s the trees, now green, that hang over the street, and the way bird-song is audible above the vendors and customers picking out lunch. It’s the way foot traffic suddenly takes precedence over the cars and the way my favorite fruit vendor spends the extra few minutes squeezing the oranges and picking through the piles of strawberries to avoid the ones that are over-ripe or not ripe enough. He does this for everyone – I’m not special – and I profit from it.