Monday, April 18, 2005


Market day comes around again, and my mission this week is partly to find beautiful small things to paint. I find a cluster of new garlic, violet and plump like blushing bridesmaids, an iris, a string of amber shallots and a trio of goats cheeses.

Standing in line at the cheese stall in Bedoin market, I overhear a mother explaining to her daughter the small mouldy goats cheeses snuggled together which are called 'bouches-trous':

"Si tu as une p'tite faim tu as un trou dans ton estomac, alors tu prends un p'tit bouche-trou pour le remplir."

In other words, as far as I understand it, the little fromage blocks up the hole of hunger, presumably as well as blocking the mouth and serves as both mars bar and gobstopper all at the same time, not to mention a hefty does of natural antibiotics.

The couple continued with their purchase (comte fruité, pelardon crémeux, picodon pas trop sec, banon pret a couler..) and paid. The little girl clearly did have a 'little hunger' and so a 'bouche-trou' was selected from its group and given as a treat.

Can you imagine an English child devouring a little white cheese covered with blue mould? I am sure that, in addition to being slimmer and prettier and less fussy than her English counterpart, this one's resistance will be higher to seasonal maladies.

Standing there watching her lick the blue fungus off her treat I remembered Goat Woman - the old witch of chevre. She, goateed, greenish and hunched just like her herd, sold beautiful chevre cheeses, each one subtly perfumed and sprigged with thym, sarriette, lavande, or whatever grew around her pasture. When I first arrived, Mondays - market day - was goats cheese, salad and organic rye bread day, and the day of my weekly meaningful exchange with Goat Woman. As Monday followed Monday, she tentatively allowed her lips to part and to show a little row of white goat teeth above her beard in appreciation of my regular custom. I knew that each cheese I bought went through no middle man and straight in to her creative bony hands. And then she simply disappeared. Months later I was told that because of EEC regulations she was no longer allowed to sell at market because she did not have an EEC regulation fridge. We miss her.

Julian didn't paint any of the gifties but we ate two of them and the flowers look happy on the farmhouse table.


Blogger Sammy said...

My husband has been eating moldy cheese ever since his body has been able to digest it. When he was a child roquefort was often served at breakfast!

7:22 PM  
Blogger Jean said...

What a wonderful shopping mission - small things to paint... French markets inspire that thought anyway.

8:12 PM  
Blogger Katia said...

Oooh I aspire to be like my three-year old nephew who skips past the dinner table, grabs a massive chunk of roquefort, shoves it in his mouth, and skips away happily.

8:22 PM  
Blogger granny p said...

My extremely picky grandchild will eat goat. Sometimes. Her mother ate stilton from an early age....In the canaries luckily, though our bit of it doesn't have much in the way of markets, the one that does sells goat cheese without benefits of fridges - this is technically outside the bloody EEC. Saw some depressing statistics lately about the disappearances of god knows how many French cheeses because of their idiocies...Had TB as child pre pasteurisation - still don't buy it.

11:45 AM  

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