Holding up a pair of tomatoes, I told Frank that they weren’t to be eaten until tomorrow—Sunday.
He just cracked up.
“How do you know that?”
“The woman at the marché asked me when we were going to eat them, and it won’t be before Sunday, so I told her demain.”
He was still laughing.
There’s a lot to like about France and Nice and I’ve talked a lot about the marchés here, but one thing that hasn’t been mentioned is how genuinely nice and helpful most of the vendors are. And how well they know their produce. It’s very common to be asked when you want to eat: tomatoes, melons, avocados and probably many more fruits and vegetables than I know about. When you go to eat the Sunday tomatoes, or the Wednesday melons, you’ll see that they are generally perfect.
I always thought I was pretty good at picking out avocados until one day when a vendor asked me when I was going to use them. He promptly took them away and replaced them. Flawless.
They’re all very conscious of portion control. It’s so great to be able to buy a half a melon (seeds scooped out if you’d like). A giant cabbage? How big a wedge to you want? Same with almost all winter squash—just take a portion. I was totally surprised to see my friend asking for and getting, half a head of frisse.
But back to the Sunday tomatoes. Not only was I asked when they were going to be eaten, but which ones I wanted. At this point, my knowledge of types of tomatoes is hovering around zero. And maybe it’s like potatoes here, it depends on what you’re going to do with them. I asked for the ones with the most flavor. She said it was up to me, but she liked the beef hearts (beefsteaks kinda sorta) the best. I got some of each. On Sunday, when I tasted them, the coeur de boeuf were my favorites too. I look forward to spending the summer working my way through the beautiful tomatoes in the markets, even if I have to wait a day or two until they’re perfect. Au demain.