You may know that, for me, Saturday is market day. Almost every Saturday, I go to my favourite village market in Villereal, in the Lot et Garonne departement of France. It's a truly gorgeous market, which I love.
Well,, today is Tuesday, which is why I went to market this morning. Things have conspired against my weekly visit to Villereal for the past couple of weeks and although I managed missing the first trip, when I then missed the second, I decided that I really needed to supplement the fruits of the garden with some local purchased produce.
I'm lucky, where I live here, right on the border of the Dordogne and Lot et Garonne departements, there is a different market on every single day of the week. And they are all within a few minutes drive, the furthest away being only a 25 minute drive. Tuesday, it's the role of Castillonnes, to host it's local market, and, as Castillonnes is just 5 kms away, it was to there I rushed this morning.
I wouldn't say I was a regular visitor to Castillonnes market but I do go fairly often as it is also where the nearest branch of my bank is found, and that branch is only open on market day!!!! And so I found myself wandering through the market, nodding to the various traders I know. Rene and Sandrine were there from the permaculture farm at Lasspisottes. The "leek" lady from Villereal, who I have often written about, was also there, with her bicycle propped against the wall behind her st.... well, it can hardly be called a stall, just a basket of delicious fresh produce picked that very morning. Lauren, my long suffering green grocer at the market at Villereal, also has his stall in the main square at Castillonnes, and, indeed, it was to his stall that I first headed.
But as I arrived in the main square a rather nice seedling stall caught my eye. I have seen this man here from time to time and his seedlings always look so good. He sells a large variety of herbs, all potted up and costing just a few cents each. There was mint, and basil, and coriander, and tarragon, and a host of other truly aromatic herbs lining a stall about 20ft (6metres) long. All his herbs are sold in pots and he uses a thin plastic former to hold 12 pots. I like the formers as they are great disposable seed trays, and I often use them if I have any. Each "pot" is about the same size as an individual yogurt pot, which I also use extensively.
But then, right at the far end of the stall, something caught my eye. There was a pile of those plastic formers but I noticed that in the top one each cell had a live snail in it. I thought it was surprising to have that many snails on the plants he had brought to market, but wandered on my way. I suddenly stopped and turned back as the realisation hit me...
He had snails in every one of that pile of formers.... He had them, quite simply, because they were just another produce of his garden that could be sold as food.