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The Myth of the French 'Country' Market


jamiemaw
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:biggrin: As one of the North Americans that has had the temerity to post on this thread, I am glad to have been of assistance in your understandings of "us".

I might add that as one of the people who has been read here and therefore assumed to be representative of an overall cultural understanding of "us", that it would also be useful to apply the idea that you espouse in your second sentence to "us" as well as to any book you might choose.

"We" are different and fuller in the original text, also.

An internet forum does not show either our depth or ultimately probably our seriousness, as it is a tool used as much for entertainment as for any serious intent. The studies or understandings of a culture or people reached here in a few moments of reading will not be an accurate repesentation nor will it ever be acceptable to any serious scholar as there are no proofs of accuracy or "peer review" or anything other than an odd (and in my case, I do *work* on trying to be odd, my dear  :raz: ) assortment of writings that land on the screen on the computer.

If you will read of the markets seriously to understand, then the people that represent cultures perhaps deserve as much also. :smile:

indeed - and i certainly would not claim to any fullness of understanding in a few hours (rather than a few moments) - just perhaps a little more than i had previously. and certainly not enough to even begin to discuss it in a public forum. but enough to give me something to ponder on. and i think you can rest assured that i won't be devoting any time to writing about it in any serious scholarly way - enough on my plate already without adding north america to it i'm afraid...

sometimes though we can come to understandings of a field or a theme in interesting refracted ways - french markets through north american responses to them? it's got possibilities....

madumbi

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sometimes though we can come to understandings of a field or a theme in interesting refracted ways - french markets through north american responses to them?  it's got possibilities....

madumbi

:laugh::cool:

Agreed, madumbi. And perhaps to extend that further, French markets through French responses to North American responses to French markets! The possibilities are endless, and enormous fun to consider! :biggrin:

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Or in this instance, whether they have read the book before commenting on it?

Busboy, when did you say the book is available in DC?

It's available for immediate delivery from Amazon. I've ordered it.

We look forward to your thoughts when the Amazon package arrives, Karen.

I enjoy reading historical/sociological/ethnographic culinary books very much: we have more in common with our forebears than one might think. Around here, for instance, our forebears' diet was composed mainly of wild berries and early settlers.

Although the surface theme of this thread examined de La Pradelle's findings (which made quite a fuss in France a decade ago and earned her a literary prize), there's also certainly a more universal context of aspirational purchasing and the collusion of buyer and seller. The market she describes and the incidents uncovered by her research are little different from the market vendors of Italy in the Renaissance, or, for that matter, Ralph Lipschitz and the invention of the Polo brand.

But then I suppose there's a Lacoste to everything: Some cultures look inward, while others look out. Perhaps it’s only by looking out for each other, however, that we might find our innermost shopper. :biggrin:

Or so goes the thesis.

And now, back to women’s speed skating.

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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which made quite a fuss in France a decade ago and earned her a literary prize

It did win a literary prize but it didn't make any particular fuss I have been aware of.

Many literary prizes (and indeed there are many, from the Goncourt to the International Prize of Southeast Cantal Tobbaconists or the Sassetot-Le-Mauconduit's Cycling Single Mothers Association's National Literay Award) are won in France every year without raising much public attention. This one didn't.

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which made quite a fuss in France a decade ago and earned her a literary prize

It did win a literary prize but it didn't make any particular fuss I have been aware of.

Many literary prizes (and indeed there are many, from the Goncourt to the International Prize of Southeast Cantal Tobbaconists or the Sassetot-Le-Mauconduit's Cycling Single Mothers Association's National Literay Award) are won in France every year without raising much public attention. This one didn't.

Here's the website for both the Institut de France and l'Académie Francaise; the latter was founded in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu. Lovely chap, noteworthy trencherman and fondly remebered in these precincts for dispatching Samuel de Champlain in search of market ingredients. :biggrin: I wouldn't turn my nose up at one of these; the last French award I won, together with about five euros, would secure a chilly pint. :laugh:

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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Here's the website for both the Institut de France and  l'Académie Francaise; the latter was founded in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu. Lovely chap, noteworthy trencherman and fondly remebered in these precincts for dispatching Samuel de Champlain in search of market ingredients.  :biggrin:

Whaddaya say? De La Pradelle won the Prix de l'Académie française? Wow. How come nobody tells me anything? Pheh.

I wouldn't turn my nose up at one of these; the last French award I won, together with about five euros, would secure a chilly pint.  :laugh:

You privileged one, you. I'm disgusted. 5 euros! I got two literary awards in France and all they got me was a Baccarat crystal pyramid (oh well, okay, and one bottle of monbazillac at the Périgueux book fair, but it was drunk in the wink of an eye in the company of my publishing team).

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I too have been following this passage of comments with interest. However i have neither read the thesis in question or won a literary award in France(Tho' i did win 10euros on a scratch & win in Paris with minimal effort!Jamie-who is the greater fool?:wink:). But i have had some experience of both rural & urban French Markets. Lived in the 14th in Paris, but flaneured widely whilst working at a restaurant run by the Pourcel twins. Also spent two years in Laguiole with Michel Bras, who is probably one of the most knowledgeable & insightful chefs you could have the pleasure of meeting, seriously Jamie spend a morning in Rodez with this guy & he may inspire you to another chilly pint or a Ricard, if you leave out the Latin :raz:

I think my issue is with Jamie ascribing the 'Myth' to all French markets based on the study of one. Of course all manners of chicanery exist within any market however the educated consumer can still honestly sate their requirements for quality local, seasonal & fresh product. I think much of the beauty of France lies in it's regionality, a visit to the Market in St Malo can be very different than the Rodez Market in Aveyron(I have been to both, & yes they were different.) From season to season the change will be reflected in the Market.

Of course the niggling implication is that the French are being duped or they just are refusing to admit it! I have had many amusing market moments that may attest to the effort of the purveyor trying to con but the savvy French shopper having none of it. Lots of good bakeries,retaurants,traiteurs etc.. exist not by coincidence, the food culture extends far beyond markets.

I think an important measure that the French system should be duly proud is the development of standards i.e AOC that work (for me, mmmm!!!)Accountability is very important if standards are to mean anything, there are examples of punishment being meted out(most notably Jean Bardet who had his 2 stars stripped by Michelin for telling porkies on his Menu & Wine list on the origin of certain items) who knows how far the abuse spreads but my experience has been happy.

Funnily enough i live in Vancouver & have seen the development of markets here. Improvement is constant & look forward to the future of the region, though it pisses me off when a local Beef supplier changes the feed of his cattle in an attempt to soften the flavour WTF "this Beef here tastes too Beefy" .One can only hope he fails & the Beef will prevail. I believe the consumer can dictate what we largely see in markets, what is the most effective way of educating the consumer??? From my experience it was a parent who could cook.

Cheers Sean

Edited by seanw (log)
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You privileged one, you. I'm disgusted. 5 euros! I got two literary awards in France and all they got me was a Baccarat crystal pyramid (oh well, okay, and one bottle of monbazillac at the Périgueux book fair, but it was drunk in the wink of an eye in the company of my publishing team).

Well, it was shortly after the Crimean War. What a shame Richelieu wasn't a better playwright.

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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I too have been following this passage of comments with interest. However i have neither read the thesis in question or won a literary award in France(Tho' i did win 10euros on a scratch & win in Paris with minimal effort!Jamie-who is the greater fool?:wink:). But i have had some experience of both rural & urban French Markets. Lived in the 14th in Paris, but flaneured widely whilst working at a restaurant run by the Pourcel twins. Also spent two years in Laguiole with Michel Bras, who is probably one of the most knowledgeable & insightful chefs you could have the pleasure of meeting, seriously Jamie spend a morning in Rodez with this guy & he may inspire you to another chilly pint or a Ricard if you leave out the Latin

I rarely win when I scratch, Sean, especially in public. :biggrin: And alas, my flaneuring was largely limited to making the hay in the fields and donating Canadian blood on the asphalt-like rugby pitches of the Massif Central and environs. Fortunately, Extra-Jeans's daughters were exceptional tour guides by night, although by the end of the second season that Dior would be shut forever. It seems like an Eric Rohmer movie of like-vintage now. But leave out the Latin? I think not - for there you'll surely find the lies that bind us.

Not incidentally, after we'd piled the trailers high with the hay bales and stacked the barn, Extra-Jean would take us into the village for, no, not chilly pints, at least not right away. The first drink was always a tepid pastis, a little laying down of the gauntlet. Only then the pints would flow and I'll say this about him: although he was my patron, he was never patronizing.

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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Though this thread has really gone too long now, it is nevertheless fascinating because it shows in the most minute details how BS about an over-romanticized country — whose image is all-too-readily misshapen through some writers' ignorance and other writers' fantasies — gets spread beyond borders. It's a good example of the process. The final phase, still yet to come, will probably be the publishing of enthusiastic reports on Mme de La Pradelle's enlightening and oh-so-ironical anthropology book (cherchez l'erreur), saying how accurately and rigorously she described the phenomenon of the French Market®™ ("Well, who would've thought? — Oh, I guess we had it coming — you know, those French, after all..."), even though one single excerpt shows all too blatantly that she has little clue of what a market is, and that she obviously can't see or feel the structural difference between a wheel of Laguiole and an aluminum-wrapped wedge of Vache qui Rit.

The problem is that some readers will believe it's information, and there you go.

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Yet doesn't each country have its romanticised myths? About food, even - and all that goes along with it?

It may be that there is an internal myth and an external myth and they might be at odds. But "reality" is something difficult to define down to an exact science, as the field of psychology would have us know, so the myths - all of our narratives - are important.

Mostly it is unfortunate when myths (or narrative realties) collide due to what any one person may report as their "truth" (in this case the "truth" of the country markets of France as understood by this author). When ire rises, often reason can go out the door.

And I would guess that intent is important to understand, also. I am curious to read the book to see if I can grasp the author's intent.

Maybe she just wanted to sell a book. Paying the rent can be a cumbersome part of life sometimes. :wink:

"Some people" will believe anything, of course. And "some people" will not.

That is true of the larger issues of who we all are as countries or people as it is true of what is offered at the market stall. . . in ANY country.

"Some people" might believe that as an "American" my own dining habits are composed of grazing here and there, eating only hot dogs, acorns, and hamburgers - frozen convenience foods and large sodas - and of course, with an occasional trip to Babbo where the seam on my dress would be twisted wrong due to the terrible quality of fashion here. And they might be right. :rolleyes:

But not entirely - not all the time - not even perhaps most of the time?

But it would seem to be an excellent opportunity here, in this thread - to challenge any assumptions that may not be correct with clear and accurate, documented information shaped in a persuasive form by whomever wishes to do so - rather than to shut down the discussion. . .(?)

Edited by Carrot Top (log)
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I think you have raised the crux of the discussion, Karen; the theme that de La Pradelle describes is very much a universal one (as has been painstakingly pointed out here) about the complicity of any buy:sell contract, social or otherwise.

Hot dogs on wry for you, maple syrup dreams for me.

Jamie

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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Yet doesn't each country have its romanticised myths? About food, even - and all that goes along with it?

It may be that there is an internal myth and an external myth and they might be at odds. But "reality" is something difficult to define down to an exact science, as the field of psychology would have us know, so the myths - all of our narratives - are important.

Etc., etc.

Could we be serious and to the point for a minute?

Excuse me, but when I speak of the reality of French markets, as some people here who do know the subject as I do have done too, there is nothing poetical, romanticised, personal, or even remotely related to a myth, and it's as far away from psychology as it is possible to be. Do have your thrills as you like them. But here we're dealing with people at work and their respectability, as well as quality rules and regulations that are by no means ethereal.

Also, remember that we are supposed to be dealing with an anthropology book. Anthropology and romanticism are a dangerous mixture.

I think you have raised the crux of the discussion, Karen; the theme that de La Pradelle describes is very much a universal one (as has been painstakingly pointed out here) about the complicity of any buy:sell contract, social or otherwise.

Yes, tell me about "painstaking"...

The crux of the discussion? :shock:

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No worries. This saison, the theme - perhaps even the cru - of the Vancouver International Wine Festiva is France. :smile: Please come and join us! It's the biggest wine festival in North America and licks even the extremities with fun! :biggrin:

Cheers aye, and yours in premier crew,

Jamie + Eva

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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Could we be serious and to the point for a minute?

Excuse me, but when I speak of the reality of French markets, as some people here who do know the subject as I do have done too, there is nothing poetical, romanticised, personal, or even remotely related to a myth, and it's as far away from psychology as it is possible to be. Do have your thrills as you like them. But here we're dealing with people at work and their respectability, as well as quality rules and regulations that are by no means ethereal.

Also, remember that we are supposed to be dealing with an anthropology book. Anthropology and romanticism are a dangerous mixture.

Oh. Serious and to the point? :biggrin: I thought I was, but apparently whatever it was I said did not meet with your approval.

To some people, being serious *may* exclude any other possibilites of ways to look at a thing. It *may* mean looking at and understanding a thing in precisely the way they see it, and in precisely the tone they seek one to see it in.

But that is not my way of seriousness. My way of seriousness includes possibilites, potential for further or alternate thought, sometimes (hopefully, even) humor, and - :shock: as I am of the human race and therefore am supposed to have a mind and heart (but as I've always said, some do some don't :smile: ) my way of seriousness is not as far away from psychology as it is possible to be.

Sort of an all-inclusive seriousness, you know.

And trust me, there is no thrill for me in thinking of the French markets as something romanticised. When I did my shopping at French markets, I was out to get the best food at the best price, as I am at any market. That there was some theatre there (as some markets are lucky to have) did not do anything for me except amuse me, as it would anywhere else.

As you say, there are quality rules and regulations at most good markets (the world round again, not just in France!) and it would seem that if your wish is to prove finally and ultimately that these rules can not, are not, will not, be broken or twisted at all in the French market then it would seem that the best way to do a job of convincing "everyone" of that, so that they all would shut up as you want them to, is to specifically detail those rules and regulations and then show to us all, logically, why it is that France might be the only geographic place on earth that is free of "myth" and "psychology" and the theatre that is involved in selling things.

Clear our minds of this nonsensical romanticism! Do it with facts, proofs.

.................................................................

Anthropology and romanticism a dangerous mixture? Perhaps. Romanticism is dangerous mixed with anything, isn't it? For one might finally have the curtains of romanticism ripped from one's eyes to see the stark, unadorned "truth" of whatever it is we are looking at. And that might not be too pleasant at the end of the day - the unadorned "truth". Of course, romanticism also has something to do with creating an "interest" in something - it is like a scent of something that allures, something that brings one closer in to look. Curiosity itself is somehow linked with a hint of romanticism - indeed, there might not be anthropologists without the romantic urge to "understand" something different, something from somewhere else.

And romanticism is also, at its core, a sort of love. If it can be made to last, I say "All the better."

But that is just my view. Something that is "nothing poetical, romanticised, personal, or even remotely related to a myth" as you claim French markets to be. . .might be most people's cup of demitasse.

What a shame. :sad:

Edited by Carrot Top (log)
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Actually, earlier today I thought to write even further, seanw - making comparisons to how one might have feelings for the French country market that would equate to some other things in life that must be taken quite seriously such as childhood slavery in the chocolate business or abuse of the elderly or even betrayal between marriage partners - therefore allowing that one does of course have the right to feel highly personal in demanding seriousness without any sort of lightness involved about one's own farmer's market every bit as anything else in life, but decided that I'd sort of blow the opportunity for further parrying which of course is undeniably fun.

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I don't get it. You're claiming your right to subjective re-creation of a sociological reality ("having a heart and mind", sure, as if you were the only one to have them here) on the faith of an obviously badly-researched book, and then you ask me for proofs for facts that don't require any? (The comments on the gross errors that can be found in just one tiny excerpt of the book were already more proof than was required.) You don't need proofs to believe any nonsense that's printed in a book, but you need "proofs" when people with experience backed by a long contact with the facts patiently explain to you that it's obvious BS?

What more do you want — police reports? Biological tests?

Of course that kind of dialectical gymnastics has allowed one of the most fabulously silly threads in history to drag on, which is some kind of a feat, but now I do believe it's time to put an end to its misery.

Edited by Ptipois (log)
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I think on eG if a thread wants to go on, and it's on topic and not offensive, then members are allowed to continue their discussion. I for one have found the posts on this thread very illuminating.

Edit: comma abuse.

Edited by hjshorter (log)

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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I don't get it. You're claiming your right to subjective re-creation of a sociological reality ("having a heart and mind", sure, as if you were the only one to have them here) on the faith of an obviously badly-researched book, and then you ask me for proofs for facts that don't require any? (The comments on the gross errors that can be found in just one tiny excerpt of the book were already more proof than was required.) You don't need proofs to believe any nonsense that's printed in a book, but you need "proofs" when people with experience backed by a long contact with the facts patiently explain to you that it's obvious BS?

What more do you want — police reports? Biological tests?

Of course that kind of dialectical gymnastics has allowed one of the most fabulously silly threads in history to drag on, which is some kind of a feat, but now I do believe it's time to put an end to its misery.

Ptipois -

If you believe that I am claiming a right to "subjective re-creation of a social reality" then I have no idea at this point how to respond as that is where the conversation ends as there is no way to counter this, or none that I can think of.

If you believe that I was saying that I was the only one here with a heart and a mind, then all I can say is that your understanding of what I was saying is incorrect.

This book is worthy of comment because it was published. And it sold.

It is again worthy of comment and discussion because it has been re-issued and will again be read. And it will be read in particular by a fairly well-educated group of people, because not everyone goes to the corner bookstore to pick up the latest University of Chicago bit of print. This group of well-educated people is a group that shapes ideas of other people, as these people *are* the ones who teach university level courses and determine reading material for students that will shape the ideas these students "learn" and this group of people also include others interested in culture as a whole who have the means to influence what is read in the media of culture(s). Mr. Maw is an example of this. He, and other editors who have interest in this field will read this book, and they do have the power or authority to send further information on the book and the ideas it proposes, out into the more generalized world of readers that pick up a magazine or a newspaper.

I do not think, myself, that this book reflects "only" on France. And that is where our differences of opinion on this may reside. You are defending France. But I am not seeing it as France only or country markets only. I am seeing it as the world, and as the negotiation process.

If you do feel that it is France and your culture that we are discussing here - no more no less - then I can see why you would say it is time to "end this misery".

But truly, it is NOT France, only France - that is being discussed (again, my opinion). France was the example used in this book. And France, in discussing this book, can be used to reply to the book in whatever way one wishes, I assume.

If I wanted to fight the assumptions about France that this book espouses, I would detail, succinctly and without emotion or any personal thoughts included - what rules and regulations *are* in place in France that other places do *not* have. Then I would find the numbers somewhere credible that told of how often these rules and regulations are broken as opposed to other places. That would seem to be a start, to me. I would try to avoid sounding at all subjective or with any personal stake in the subject.

But again, I do not think France (alone) needs defense (and I am not so sure that anything needs "defense"), and I think the subject here is larger, and I am quite aware that people have hearts and minds. That is why I like humor (of a sort that is good-natured and that is understood as such by the majority of readers - although there will always be someone who does not "get" whatever humor is displayed in whatever subject and that is a risk that is never avoided in taking the jump towards hopefully eliciting a smile or a laugh with humor) in writings and in ways of thinking, too.

P.S. One of the things that has happened during this thread is that I finally clicked onto your blog, which I had not before. I enjoy it very much.

Edited by Carrot Top (log)
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Although I do have an admission to make, though.

Generally (as I noted earlier) books that sound as if they were going about the business of defining culture (through foods or whatever) deeply bore me for the most part. The language used is often much too dense for my mind to wish to approach.

It was only the insistence that this subject *was* one way and only one way, and the insistence that this thread had "gone on long enough" that reinvigorated my interest in the whole thing at all.

Tell me I can not do something? I'm gonna turn right around and head right back to do it, if the reasons behind someone saying "you can't do that" don't make sense to me.

I ordered the book once on Amazon. Then cancelled it because I dislike bickering. But as soon as I finish this post, I'm headed back to order it again.

The world works in mysterious ways, doesn't it. :smile:

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Yes, I should think that the discussion can only be elevated when more members have had the chance to read de La Padelle's opus in its entirety, and to compare her findings with experiences gained in their own cultures.

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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For members wishing to further their due diligence for this discussion, here's the Amazon Link for ordering Market Day in Provence.

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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