Day 1: Brantôme. The goal is to visit a different farmers market in the Dordogne region of France, daily, and bring whatever I find back for dinner. No supplementing from supermarkets, I’ll eat only what I find at the open fresh farmers markets. So it’s Day 1 and I’m in Brantôme. I find dense White Asparagus from the Farmers Market nestled beneath the cathedral, as well as Cheeses, Butter, Saucisse, Rillets, fragrant Apples. Dinner is Asparagus steamed upright in a little salted water, then served with a soft poached egg. The Brantôme Farmers Market is situated in the heart of the old town. This sign reads Goats Milk, Roasted Chicken.My dear friend Lucie, who lives in Bourdeilles, comes for White Asparagus dinner. (No heat or hot water in the farmhouse but the gas stove works great!) I like the rustic-ness of making do with what I’ve found at the market. Nothing is pre-packaged or processed. It’s just plain, honest food.Day 2: Périgueux. I awake to freezing rain on the farmhouse roof. After Coffee and Marmalade on fried Baguette in fragrant Nut Oil, I head to Périgueux farmers market to find something to roast for dinner. I find a Chicken, some Potatoes. Then some fresh Strawberries, too. This picture is of a butcher in one of the indoor meat markets in Périgueux.Back in the garden the rain has stopped and all is tranquil, except for the rustle of a robin red breast. I’m having a simple dinner of roasted Chicken in Garlic, Herbs… The Potatoes roasting in the chicken-y drippings… till crispy, and golden.. Later, there is Strawberries, Camembert. Lucie joins me again for dinner, her dog, Nusu, sits calmly with us but eyeing the chicken the whole while. Day 3: Bourdeilles. Bourdeilles market is very small with only a handful of vendors. It’s my closest market so I’m able to ride there on my bicycle. An old man drives his truck right up, opens the side window and from it sells everything one could need. I purchased Honey, Wild Onions, a large bunch of Radishes, and some fragrant yellow Apples with blotched, leathery skin. Now it’s back up to the farmhouse to make dinner.Dinner is Radishes, sliced on Baguette, with French Butter and Sea Salt. Honey and Apples.Day 4: Leftovers Such a drab word for what is essentially a most unique and delicious dinner, but there is so much leftovers from the past 3 days that dinner on the 4th night has become a menagerie of past purchases. Plus a sturdy, old (the best kind!) Cookbook, to keep me company. Lucie and Nusu don’t make it over, and the night is quiet except for the plums falling softly from the trees that circle the farmhouse perimeter.
It’s Spring here in New York, and I had teed up with photographer Addie Juell, (and her wonderful husband Eric) to go to the farmer’s market, pick up whatever was there, and we would shoot whatever I found, at her Williamsburg studio. It would be impromptu, I would just buy whatever was there. I had hoped for spring greens, (pea shoots or sunflower sprouts), ramps, some fiddleheads, even. But there was none! New York’s idea of Spring is a fickle beast. The ramps were there but the time I got in line they had sold out, the fiddleheads too. (I was right behind the guy when he bought the last ones.) There was plenty of stacked sticks of rhubarb, but I didn’t want to construct a shoot around it. But what was there? Apples. And many beautiful kinds. A reminder that New York is slow with it’s Spring, and some days are warm and promising, and some days are cold, but if you look hard enough there is still beauty everywhere.
ADDIE JUELL, a native Northern Californian, leads a double life making art and taking pretty pictures of things that (mostly!) don’t move. She lives in Brooklyn, plays the ukulele and as hard as she tries, can’t seem to follow a recipe.