Grocery shopping varies by country, of course. Mostly it all makes sense, but sometimes it’s over the top. The “Carrotte des Sables” (sand carrots) look like they were just plucked from the ground. What are they for? With the lovely ordinary carrots below, do shoppers buy them to eat? Are they decorative? Is there some “Fête des mères” ritual (as I write, it is French Mother’s Day) that they’re a part of? Is it in honor of the Paris-Plage? Central Paris isn’t exactly farm country or I’d speculate about animal feed. Part of the oddness is that it’s a small store with limited selection … yet they use a good bit for, uh, sand carrots. Huh. (Scratches head.)
With a bit more care I might have captured more in the photo. You can see the celery; lots more of the leaves left on here. Can’t see the cauliflower (choufleur) is super leafy; half the take-home ends up in the trash. Same with the leeks (poireaux) to the right. When I’ve bought leeks at the outdoor markets, the vendor will typically ask if you want the tops cut off. Someone must occasionally say “no?”. Leeks, as well as shallots, are available pretty much anywhere, even at the tiny epicerie (“7/11”) 50 meters from our front door. Some unexpected options, like the celery root (celeriac upper right). On the other hand, usually just one kind of hot pepper.
More pre-packaged options are available than our 2010 trip. Better cleaned and trimmed than the unpacked stuff, maybe 75% of a US expat’s ready-to-eat expectation. Occasional grit or pebbles or “des mauvaise herbes” may turn up, as with this packet of “epinards” our gardienne (who we hire to do our main weekly shopping) brought home from the big Monoprix kitty-corner to the Abbey of Saint‑Germain‑des‑Prés. Hmm, come to think of it, “des Prés” means “of the meadows,” and it was estalished, you know, just 1.5 millenia back when what’s now Central Paris was basically farm land. Fairly likely that for 75% of the history of parishioners, the local markets offered “sand carrots.” So maybe I should show a little respect?