Feasts for the Nose — Street Markets in Paris

Feast for the Nose and Eyes  — Street Markets in Paris, May 23 2014

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Bakery Rue Mouffetard May 2014

Street markets abound!  Suddenly, tents mushroom where there were none before.  And then,  for a morning or a day, a feast for the eyes, nose, and taste buds  continually entices passers-by to stop, examine, be drawn in by a friendly greeting and the gift of a bag in which to put selected items to be weighed and purchased. 

Several days ago – at the end of last week, actually – we had purchased at one of the regularly held neighborhood street markets  wonderful fresh produce and prepared foods to provide us with several beautiful lunches and a dinner at home. 

Then yesterday, we wanted to go to a larger market a little further from home.  But we got out of the house too late to see most of the temporary booths.  However, the street that hosted that market was an extremely narrow (maybe 5 feet across, tops) medieval street lined on both sides with shops whose fronts were open to the street.  As we made our way along, I became aware that many shops were announced first by the tantalizing fragrances that greeted my nose.  The cheese shop’s pungent blend of ripe goat and cow cheeses drew my eyes immediately to the beautiful  twenty foot long display of different shapes and colors of cheeses, from little round full cheeses barely 2 inches  across, with thick crusts, to huge wheels of cheddar or Swiss hard cheeses. 

 

And then we came to the organic fruit stand.  Oh, my!  First our eyes lighted upon 10 feet of fresh cherries piled high, surrounded by peaches, apricots, nectarines, “nefles” (whatever they are – kinda sour.  We decided after our first trial that we’d leave those alone).  And the strawberries!  Several feet of containers of perfectly shaped, ruby red, perfectly ripe berries, with an irresistible fragrance (and flavor.).  We entered the store to pay for our selection of fruit, and just wanted to linger, to enjoy the symphony of sweet, aromatic perfumes.  Strawberries, raspberries, small sweet melons – the “fruits of love” – along with  peaches and apricots, all smelled forth  at a perfect pitch of ripeness.

Further along, the sausage shops added their pungent array of herbal smells to the harmony we had already enjoyed.  These smelled like the brass members of the olfactory orchestra.  

And even the chocolate and nougat shops added a grace note of sugary sweetness to the atmosphere of the market street. 

We reached the end with a deep feeling of satisfaction, having inhaled deeply, savored the complementary  harmonies of ripe, assertive smells, and felt somehow complete.  It dawned on me that in the US this component of smell is dramatically lacking from our experiences of purchasing food.  I regretted this lack in the completeness of our sensory palette as Americans.  The addition of wonderful smells to a walk down the street  will provide an unexpected richness  to savor as we bring memories home with us at the end of this visit to Paris. 

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Fruit market, Rue Mouffetard, May 2014

About Rev. Rosemary Hyde, Ph.D.

I am a grandmother, a classical homeopath, a mystical poet, and an interfaith minister. I also have a large, enduring place in my heart for Paris. I first spent time in Paris in 1961, as a Fulbright scholar. I remained in France for three years, living also in Toulouse and in Nancy. I have revisited France and Paris multiple times since then, and have come to know central Paris reasonably well. I grew up in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, where there were many Franco-Americans, and their language fascinated me. I was fortunate in 6th grade, when my family moved, to find myself in a Catholic French speaking girls' school, where I had the wonderful fortune of becoming bilingual. It still feeds my soul deeply, to visit Paris, speak French, and reconnect with the little French girl in me. I am serving presently as co-minister at Unity Center of Peace in Chapel Hill, NC. I give talks one or two Sundays a month -- please go to the website, www.unitychapelhill.org, and sign up for the weekly e-news to learn what's going on -- special events, seasonal interfaith ceremonies, and Sunday themes and talks. My vision for the Unity Chapel Hill ministry and for myself is to become a loving, uniting presence in the lives of all those who cross paths with us. That's all there is, really -- loving presence. And so it is. Amen. My goal as a minister is to add richness to life for those who resonate to more than one religious tradition or to none -- those with mixed religions as well as the unchurched, untempled, and unmosqued. All of us, whatever our cultural allegiances, hunger for and need support in finding the transcendent joy that's ours to find in this earthly life. All of us need and want to celebrate beautifully the great and small milemarker moments. All of us crave the beauty of prayer as an expression of our participation in universal love. All of us wish to learn a greater vision, to see our lives opening to the Divine. All of us desire deeply to find serenity and peace that lasts no matter what happens today and tomorrow. This is the meaning of Transcendessence. We find the essence of spirit and transcend the narrow constraints of our bodies and egos. Join us today by subscribing, so you won't miss a single poem, message, prayer, or meditation.
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