This stall is one of the most enticing of the whole market, in my opinion. You can taste liberally (and you get no small piece to taste either). The stall owner encourages you to taste all his cheeses. And of course you buy. Now there... be careful! These cheeses are VERY expensive. So buy small pieces or you'll spend a fortune. It is worth it though.
What to buy: Beautiful cheeses with great flavour. You should taste to know.
What to pay: 44,75 per kilo for the Cantal
The boudin noir or black pudding, also known as blood sausage, is a very popular delicacy. At this stall it was made in the morning. At the end of the morning I found an enormous queue!
I often buy boudin noir in France, sometimes still warm from cooking. I fry pieces of it for breakfast and spread it on fresh French bread. Lovely!
What to buy: Don't forget to see the other photo's in this tip!
What to pay: Oops, I forgot to look for the price. However, it can't be more than about 2 euro for a 'partie', a 30 cm piece of sausage.
Little dried sausages that I usually cut thin slices off with a pocket knife and munch away happily. Often made of pork or game and different spices or herbs added. Great stuff.
What to pay: 5 sausages (choice) for 10 euro. In 2007 (this tip was written in 2005) they were still the same price. However, when I bought them this time, the guy threw in an extra sausage :-)
French supermarkets are always just outside town and quite large compared to Dutch supermarkets. Well stocked too with fresh fish and vegetables, butchers department and delicacies (cheeses and such).
I found the Intermarche (which is the name of the chain) in Toucy very clean and organised. No funny smells.
Live animals are also sold. For eating, that is. Pheasants, turkeys, chickens, rabbits... they look so sweet. With our supermarkets we often forget that this is what we eat. It may seem sad but a fresh bit of poultry goes way above any chicken breast, plastic packed from a supermarket shelf.
It's an absolute sin to store your cheese in the fridge. It comes out much too cold and they don't do the taste any good. Better let them ripen further in these little cheese larders covered with gaze so that the cheese is in contact with open air. Just leave the cheese in a dark, coolish (but not refridgerated) space.
What to pay: Depending on size between 30-50 euro.
Be early on the Saturday market in Toucy, if you want good choice of fish. It's all laid out on ice, so keeps fresh and good. Fish is not cheap but so quick to prepare and delicious and good for you!
What to buy: For our fish meal I bought a slice of fresh 'thon' = tuna (for a raw tuna fish cake), scallops (coquilles St. Jacques), and for the barbecue 3 red mullets, some 20 fresh sardines and some 30 large shrimps.
What to pay: Just over 30 euro for the lot.
In a little bakery in one of the streets I found these elaborate cakes, a far cry from the usual pain au chocolat or other more 'breakfasty' pastries. Look at the 3rd row from the right: little coffee cups made of nutty caramel, filled with some sort of praline...
What to pay: around 2 euro a piece
Often you find stalls with only different kinds of goat's cheese (called chevre). Goat's cheese salad is great, with bits of cheese on bread, melted in the oven. Or the little 'crottins' (small goats cheeses that would fit snugly in the palm of your hand or even smaller), marinated in olive oil with thyme. Or a goat's Brie that melts off your plate. I'm salivating as I type!
On Saturday mornings the little town of Toucy crams its narrow streets with maybe 100 stalls or more. The market is a meeting place and I love them!
Browsing the stalls teaches you a lot about the culture of the place. As well as watching people!
Summer plants and flowers are quite expensive in France, compared to The Netherlands. But on the market you can buy quite cheaply. After all, with a little TLC, they grow to be big all by themselves!
The French like to grow flowers, as I've noticed all up and down the country. In the countryside, the gardens and house walls outside are crammed with flower pot plants which give a bright and vivid impression. Even in towns, people tend to have hanging baskets filled with flower plants.
On the Saturday market in Toucy (until noon) I relished these big mountains of fresh dairy butter. French butter is so good. There are a lot of varieties from different regions. I especially like butter from Normandy and Bretagne where the butter is a bit salty and sometimes seasalt crystals are added.
Basically you buy 'doux' (unsalted) or 'demi-sel' (lightly salted).
On the Saturday market in Toucy I saw these cotton like garments in 2 or 3 stalls. I don't know if they're a local way of dressing. In fact, I didn't see anyone wearing it. But it was all in one style and colour.
On the Saturday market in Toucy (until noon), you'll find this bread stall. Who says that the French bread is only those long thin loaves? There's a wide variety, like these giant wholemeal loaves or the lovely, almost cake-like brioche that stays fresh for a week.
The reason it stays fresh is that it is kneaded many times before baking.
On the Saturday market (till noon), you'll find an onion stall with an amazing variety of onions, echalottes, garlic...
I couldn't imagine life without their indispensable taste given to great dishes. Especially garlic!
What to buy: A cheese sandwich with finely sliced echalottes will keep people away for the rest of the day but it is so delicious!