Thursday, March 27, 2014

Montreal Journal V: Le Marche Jean-Talon

Photograph by Hallie Cohen
Le Marche Jean-Talon is a big indoor farmer’s market on the outskirts of Montreal and "Qui lait cru!?!" is the name of one of the many concessions that line the aisles. It’s a play on words “lait cru” is the raw milk out of which a certain kind of cheese is made, but “l’ai cru?” means "who would have thought" (literally it’s “who thought it?”) Who would have thought the booth could have been manned by such a “sympatique” young woman in her green apron and big black boots. “Havre-aux-glaces,” is another colorful name literally translating as “haven” or “habour” of ice cream. Remember when you used to dock at Le Havre on transatlantic voyages to France? Wonderful olives are to be found at Le Maitre Olivier and chanterelles (some foraged and some not) and herbs at Les Jardins Sauvages. You can also pick up a package of Quebec St-Viateur Bagels thinner and less doughy and salty than your typical New York Bagel. St Viateur was founded by Myer Lewkowicz, a Polish Jew, who survived Buchenwald and immigrated to Canada in l953. In many markets you find samples of items like cheese, but at Jean-Talon you can also sample cucumbers, oranges, tomatoes, kiwis and pears piled neatly on the counters and if you’re out to buy meats, head for the counter over which a sign reads "Charcuterie Artisanale," which sells everything from choucroute and sauscisson to pierogie.  The unique arrangements of words and foods that greet the shopper at Le Marche Jean-Talon can best be described with one word, “delicieuse.”

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