⪧ We left our life in New York City to make a new one in Provence ⪦

October 21, 2009

Au Verger de Mireille.



My brother Stephen called the other day from New York asking if I might be available to help out with a photo shoot for Living in Paris this week. I readily agreed and today was the day. The shoot is for a story about produce. Apparently, the photographer they wanted to use for the story lives in Paris and it just so happens that some of the best produce one can find also exists in this city.

So, I headed to a little produce vendor, a little square shop on a charming narrow road in the 7th arrondissement, which has a good reputation for beautiful beautiful primeurs (produce): Au Verger de Mireille. 35 rue Verneuil (75007) more precisely. Madame Mireille, whose sole aim was to please and repeat 'Oui Madame' as many times as possible, was a heavy-set French woman with a strong voice and uncharacteristic clear blue eyes. Madame Mireille took a rather difficult task - purchasing hundreds of euros worth of fruit and vegetables - and made it magically simple. I basically just had to hand her a very long list, specify shapes, colors, sizes and quantities and at 6:30 tomorrow morning, she will get up to put it all together and deliver it to the photographer. We are talking crazy amounts of produce. I had no idea what was entailed in a shoot for a simple story in a Martha Stewart magazine. Now I know.



In all of this I was reminded of just how charming a tiny French shop can be. Madame Mireille and her husband were fully implanted in their little world made up of all sorts of vibrant colors and shapes. These two are attentive in a way that supersedes any sort of good or even great American customer-service, mostly because for them it is not about service in a business sense. Their fruits and vegetables are things they love to discuss and to debate over and joy comes from having new people with whom to engage in these exchanges.

At one point, she took the time to write down a recipe for a carrot pasta dish after telling me all about the white, black and yellow varieties of carrots she has. Later, her husband asked me where exactly I was from and I told him most recently New York. His face lit up and he searched in his pockets for his wallet, opened the fold and dug to find a laminated green card. It was a green card from the United States from 1948. He had spent three years in New York and lived in Hell's Kitchen with a $45/month rent. He was proud to reel off English expressions and told me he was looking forward to Halloween and pumpkin carving, which he's done every year with his pumpkins since he left the US in 1951. In the end, we were admiring those pumpkins and I was telling them how nice and evenly round they were. Then they bestowed one on me. I don't think it would have mattered if I had only bought one little apple, they still would have given me that pumpkin. I chirred my excitement and told them the plans I had already started brewing for the Jack-o-Lantern it would soon become (with Mlle. Marguerite's help and advice, of course). They smiled at me and she told me to wait and went behind her little post to find a scrap of paper and some tape. She walked out to the pumpkin and attached a badge on it, 'vendu' (sold).



















9 comments:

Jill said...

I loved the charm of all the little shops in Paris. Here in the western United States shops like that are almost unheard of. If little specialty shops ever do crop up, they don't stay in buisness long. Sigh.

Aaron said...

Yum.

Shelli and Gene said...

Great pictures, Emilie. I actually know that store from when we rented an apartment down the street several years ago. Only went there for an occasional splurge though, their lovely produce was pricey.

Shelli

Chaoyi said...

Love the pictures. Those produce shops remind me of home (Taiwan), we have great street markets where vendors picked the freshest produce possible daily and people buy only a day worth of produce so everything is always so fresh.
Those eggplants and artichokes look marvelous, and the tomatoes, oh, US don't have tomatoes like such unless you are lucky enough to live close to a farmers market!! I had some amazing strawberries in England, just the thought makes me drool.

the sweet life with olives said...

too cool for school! did you tell the woman that her fruit would be featured in a big american mag? can't wait to see the actual spread in living!

Rosie said...

Bravo Em! Life is beauiful when there are veggies. Loved seeing those little shops with you.

Gina said...

Emilie...BEAUTIFUL pictures! Your pix are always great, but these I found to be exceptionally so. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

What a fun post!

D1Warbler said...

Who needed another photographer to shoot those veggies. All they needed was you!

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