So here I am with my students in Uzès, cooking and eating as usual. Diligently we tramped our way around the Wednesday farmer’s market touching, tasting and smelling everything. I like this market as it’s much smaller than the Saturday one and only has produce. It is bereft of tasteless trinkets, dove coloured linen clothes, special vegetable slices that will cut anything and everything till you die and thirty thousand kinds of soap. Firstly we turned our gaze to the fabulous fish stall bursting with, amongst other things, bulots (welks), tellies (baby pippies), fresh sardines, rouget (red mullet) and fresh cod. For our purposes we needed morue (salt cod). I had bought it two days previously as you need to soak it in running water to turn it from hard dry planks into soft, plump mattresses. We poached it in milk and herbs, discarded the skin and bones and beat it into a brandade (purée) with potatoes, garlic and heroic amounts of olive oil. A brandade is not for the faint hearted but they like strong flavours in the South of France – this is no land for culinary wimps.
At 9.30am we were tasting the famous Languedoc carthagene, a fortified wine, and thought what the hell, let’s buy a bottle and drink it with our artichoke, pistachio and green olive tapenade. At 10am we were tasting some Uzège rosé and red with everyone agreeing that drinking wine at ten in the morning was an excellent way to truly access the local culture. One of the most unforgettable soups in the south is pistou soup based on fresh white coco beans and courgettes and the pesto you plop on top at the end is fresh. Anything else can go in - broad beans, peas, beans, carrots, potatoes, baby pasta etc.
Eventually we made it to the cherry stand. This is the time of year to make clafoutis (cherry flan) – simple to the point of weeping – you just throw the un-stoned cherries in a baking dish, pour over the custard mixture, chuck in a jot of kirsch, put in the oven and go away till it puffs up. Too heavenly. On the way home from the market we stopped off at the best boulangerie which just happens to be at the top of my street and bought some baguettes and a fougasse to share as we walked down the street. Fougasse is a provencal flat bread with lots of slashes in it – this one was infested with bacon bits.