I do not understand why people settle for or choose bad, mediocre or uninteresting food. French and Italian people understand the importance of ingredients, preparation, and presentation, which is why one can eat so well even in simple, inexpensive restaurants (bistro, trattoria). For example, the best sandwich I ever ate was at an Italian highway rest stop.
Today, we went to the "farmers" market. I write "farmers", because many stands feature fresh produce being sold by re-sellers, which have sourced local and imported goods at the wholesale market. I patronize real farmers, who have picked produce before coming to the market. This might not be as fresh as we used to source, when my father would buy corn from a farmer's truck beside his field, but close enough.
I also patronize the one Italian guy, who brings fresh produce from Italy for each market day (a drive that I do every few years and take two days to do it). We bought fantastic tomatoes, each being a different, irregular shape and unlike bland, uniform factory tomatoes one finds in super markets; huge artichokes; ripe melon; flavorful peaches; peppers; mushrooms; and Italian bread for bruschetta.
On the way home, we stopped at the Turkish fishmonger to find something to grill. We arrived late, so the selection was less than usual. The tuna looked inviting, but would not be ideal to grill. We considered sea bream and sole, but chose a large sea bass, which was fresh from the Atlantic and not a farm.
The poor sea bass surely imaged a different life than landing on hot grill after being gutted and stuffed with parsley, thyme, coriander, and lemon, but that cannot be helped. A fresh salad, including cucumber from my garden and home-grown green beans made ideal side dishes. Something that cannot fail is a nice bottle of white Bordeaux wine, well-chilled, of course. A rose from the garden decorated the table, which was also simple to cut in the garden.
How easy was that? Shopping was fun—much more fun that pushing a cart through a sterile super market. Preparation was easy and quick, almost simpler than opening a package of frozen fish and heating the oven. The table was set in not time.
Desert took a bit longer, because I made vanilla ice cream, which we topped with coulee from berries bought at the market. I do not recall any ice cream tasting this good.
Again, I cannot understand why people do not enjoy life. It's so easy…
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.