Les Halles de Nîmes. Ley Al. Not Leyzal. No liaison, my French teacher reminds me. Where we provision the kitchen.
Sometimes I go with a shopping list, intent on ingredients for soupe au pistou, or ratatouille, or pasta con le sarde. More often I go with an idea — barbeque or fish. Sometimes the day of the week is a factor in what I buy. The market is poor only on Monday, with many stalls closed. Since fisherman don’t take their boats out on Sunday, we don’t buy fish until Tuesday. I have the most fun, however, when I go without a list and wander around scanning for what looks best. Meanwhile Antony parks himself at the café.
Funnily enough, Sunday is a great day for shopping, with the stalls bursting with produce, alluring displays of prepared foods, and glass cases filled with fresh meat or cheese. Over the last few years we have seen the growing gentrification of Les Halles de Nîmes. This year there are new stands selling filled pasta (figs with Parma ham was a great success), Spanish hams and charcuterie, as well as fresh empañadas (chorizo, tuna, meat), lovely desserts including assortments of macaroons. More organic (bio, pronouced b.o.) vegetables, fruits and meat are on offer than ever before.
On one of our last trips, as I was buying dried beans and rice to bring back to Cairo, I stood transfixed in front of the fishmonger’s. The razor clams (couteaux) were fresh, fat and completely alluring; I bought a dozen for lunch. I sautéed garlic in olive oil, added the clams, then doused with a bit of white wine and parsley. They were delicious, tender and sweet with the hint of the sea.
Here are pictures of some of our favorite stalls at Les Halles: