Sunday, February 24, 2019

Never Vegetarians

I have a very set routine for my Sunday morning marketing. It’s a straightforward itinerary that is easy to stick to since there are only four vendors on the market square in Bourdeilles.
The first stop is at bread stall because Madam Bread bakes limited amounts of each style of bread. The early bird gets the olive bread and the late bird will get the crumbs. 

Next is Madame Bread’s son, Monsieur Honey. If I need a jar of honey it will be heavy and so it needs to be on the bottom of my basket nestled next to his mother’s bread. If I don’t need honey I just give hello kisses to him and his young family.

Paola is my third stop, but I’ll get right back to her….

My fourth and last stop is with Cheese Louise as I will linger here for a few minutes chatting. I’ll also pick up a chunk or two of goat’s cheese. Three or four times a year I order pork for what is our main source of meat. Her pigs eat the by-products of the cheese making process keeping some “bad stuff” out of the waste stream. Tom and I will never be vegetarians and it feels like this is a small gesture to living a little more lightly on the earth. 

Now back to my third stop at Paola’s. I buy my week’s worth of fresh organic vegetables here. The change of the season’s vegetables is the only thing that shakes up my routine. One week my meals are full of summer vegetables and then suddenly there will be a heavy frost and I’m looking at rustic, resistant fall produce. A couple of weeks ago after buying my veggies Paola asked me if I would like to place an order for some veal. I was brought to a stammering stop. I wanted to say, “We don’t eat veal.” But this was Paola asking me. I know of her dedication to all good farming practices. I  wanted to say, “I don’t want to buy the meat of an animal that I think of as too cute to eat.” (I can’t imagine trying to say this in French.) She’s watched me buy pork from Louise so she knows we eat meat. I was getting ready to mumble some sort of lame explanation for my reluctance, but her look told me I was not the first person to respond with this conflicted stammering. “Let me explain.” she said with her usual patience. “The few calves we raise for veal are allowed to stay with their mother. They roam about free and are allowed to suckle at will. When they are old enough they eat organic grains that are raised on our farm. (Their farm is renown as growers of old grains) The calves are not deprived of irons and minerals in order to keep their meat white. They are allowed to frolic and graze in the fields with our small herd. Between the age of seven and ten months they are taken to slaughter. When a veal calf is raised like this it’s meat is called Rose Veal because with a normal diet the meat is rose to red in color. It is indeed a short, but well lived life.” 

I’m glad that Paola shook me out of my routine long enough to explain something important to her and her families’ way of farming. Sometimes one has to stop in mid routine in order to listen and learn. In the end I place an order for a few meals worth of veal. 

The next week the routine was back to bread, honey, veg, and cheese. I had simple conversations about the weather and what the kids will be up to for vacation. No stammering about how to live gently and kindly on the earth. Actually, that’s what this little market is about every single week. 

Thank you Bourdeilles Sunday market!


Marjorie R. Williams said...

Thank you for sharing a description of your Sunday market outing at Bourdeilles--both the routine and non-routine aspects. Enjoyed it very much!

Lillian Kennedy said...

Thank you for your wonderful stories about village life in France. I used to go about once a year on painting trips.

You share your experiences in a "down to earth" manner that feels real enough to touch.

Juanita said...

I enjoy your short comments about your life in France. It's nice for us to hear what our niece is up to. Your pictures are lovely.
Aunt Juanita