Going to the market on Saturday morning in Paris, is one of my favourite things to do. Yes, it takes more time than a quick visit to the supermarket (especially when you consider it’s huge popularity and therefore long lines at every stall), but the products are way better and more varied.
My marché is a big one, with several stalls for each product groups. There are at least 5 fish stalls, 6 vegetable stalls and even 2 triperie (offal) stalls.
Now, you’ll never see me queuing to buy a pigs snout or a cows head, but you can find me waiting patiently for ripe strawberries. Last time I had to wait for 20 minutes before it was my turn at my favourite fruit and vegetable seller. People buy a huge quantity of all sorts of fruits and vegetables, and to transport all of that food (most customers come by foot) they use handy, yet not very trendy, shopping bags on wheels.
Besides the amount of stuff people buy, there’s another reason why grocery shopping at le marché is such a time consuming process:
All the grabbing, sniffing and feeling.
Of food, that is.
It’s very common to personally select everything you want to buy at a stall. Last time there was an old lady in front of us who picked out each and every piece of fruit she bought herself. There was not a single peach or cherry that she didn’t pick up to inspect thoroughly, and after asking the vendor if he was absolutely certain this cherry was a French cherry (she clearly didn’t have much faith in foreign cherries!), the approved cherries would be put in her bag.
This process would then be repeated for the peaches, the strawberries, the peas, the lemons and a melon. I even helped sniffing the melon, as she told me her nose wasn’t what it used to be. I said the melon wasn’t very mûr (ripe) yet, but that was just perfect as she intended to eat it later that week. And hop, there it went, into her shopping bag on wheels. There’s not a lot of hassling over prices on French markets, you just pay what they ask, everyone knows good food comes with a price, and so her checkout process was remarkably quick.
I watched her walk away, she obviously had some trouble dragging the bag on wheels behind her, but that didn’t stop her from wearing heels to go with her old lady outfit (you know what I mean, a below-the-knee-skirt in a safe colour with a matching jacket and a well hair sprayed hairdo). I hope her melon turned out mûr enough.
Hangop (curd) is one of those classic Dutch dishes that were out of style for many years, until recently. Now, there’s a new appreciation for this dessert, and well deserved in my opinion. It’s also quite fun to make, as it is pretty surprising to see how your plain yogurt transforms into such a creamy substance. The Dutch word hangop comes from the verb ophangen (to hang), and that’s just what you need to do: fill a clean cloth with yogurt and hang it :-)
A word of warning, although making a dessert out of plain yogurt might sound ‘light’, it is in fact pretty filling. You don’t need much hangop to be completely satisfied!
This recipe was previously published in DUTCH, the magazine in the June 2015 issue.
- 1 kg (4 cups) full-fat yogurt
- ½ tsp vanilla seeds (or vanilla extract)
- Fresh strawberries, to serve with
- Optional: serve with sugar or honey, for those who need a real sweet dessert
- To strain the yogurt, you need a cheese cloth or a clean kitchen cloth (washed without fabric softener!)
- Form a bag out of the cloth and fill it with yogurt, tie it up and leave it hanging over a bowl* for a night.
- The next day you can scrape out the hangop (it has become really thick by now) and mix in the vanilla
- Serve with fresh strawberries and for those who need it, a bit of sugar