My market basket

July 4, 2010 at 7:13 AM | Posted in Paris 2010, Paris markets | 3 Comments

I am the worst budgeter ever. Or, to be more specific, I am not a bad budgeter except when food markets are involved. Then all bets are off.

I live about a ten minutes’ walk from Marche Auguste Blanqui, which is a giant street market between the Place d’Italie and Corvisart metro stations in the 13th arrondissement, where I life. It is about seven blocks long and completely teeming with activity. There are multiple fromageries (cheese stands), charcuteries (cured meats), boucheries (raw meats), volailleries (chicken shops), poissoneries (fish shops), boulangeries (bakers), traituers (sellers of prepared foods), ethnic food stands, and that’s even before you get to the stand upon stand of fresh fruits and vegetables. I get weak in the knees just thinking about it. This market is one of the best parts of my neighborhood.

Today I set out around noon, with a “firm” budget of 15 euros, knowing my tendency to get carried away at the market. I was buying food for the week (5 lunches and 3 dinners), and I figured that 15 euros would get me half a roast chicken, some olives, some cheese, and a few fruits and vegetables. I set this budget as challenge to see whether I could do it, but gave myself a little cushion of cash in my wallet in case I saw something too good to pass up.

I know myself way too well. I arrived, and all good intentions were dashed the moment the scent of the chicken rotisseries hit my nose.

My haul?

  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 200 grams (a small plastic bag full) of picholine olives
  • Half a rotisserie chicken
  • A disc of Saint-Marcellin cheese (creamy cow’s milk cheese with a soft, edible rind)
  • A wedge of Saint-Nectaire cheese
  • A wedge of Roquefort and a large round of goat cheese with a thick, edible rind (I was getting ready to leave, and then I saw a stand selling cheeses for 1.5 euros each and totally couldn’t resist. This is a lot of cheese, even for me. I figure it will last me awhile)
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 giant artichokes
  • 6 apricots
  • 1 Charentais melon (a small, highly scented cantaloupe)
  • 3 nectarines
  • 500 grams of cherries
  • 1 baguette
  • 1 sac of 10 chouquettes (sugar-crusted pastry puffs)

Basically the only thing that I successfully resisted was some kind of cured ham product, although I was sorely tempted by a dry-cured sausage with pistachios inside, a specialty from Lyon. With all that cheese, I figured that I had enough saturated fat in my market bag to last me awhile.

I profoundly overshot my budget (like, by almost double)…but how often will I have access to a market like this? Plus, the (highly subsidized) canteen at work closed on Friday, so I will have to start bringing my lunch. The canteen is a story for another day.

A petit sac of chouquette

The sac, a little more petit after I was unable to hold off until post-photo shoot. Look at those delicious insides!

Tonight I’m looking forward to a dinner of a steamed artichoke with the leaves and then the heart dipped in melted butter, various cheeses smeared on the fresh baguette, some olives, and a ripe nectarine for dessert. I’m officially in France.



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  1. So proud of you for knowing when NOT to budget – looks like great success, and I know you’ll enjoy every bite! As Julia would say … 🙂

  2. Not only am I coming for dinner and lunch, but I want some of those cookies to get the taste of the many cheeses off my palate!!! I am so jealous. What a wonderful way to blow your food budget!

  3. The artichokes look simply fantastic.. although myself I tend to dip in mayo.

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