radis-rougeLast week, the news was full of about how bad weather in Spain and Italy had hurt vegetable crops, sending prices skyrocketing.

Look at those beautiful caulifower.

I have to admit that I had picked up a few courgettes (zucchini) at the market and then dropped them as if stung by a bee when the vendor informed me the price was €7.50 a kilo. In summer, courgettes sell for €1 a kilo. My fault for wanting something out of season.

The Romanesco variety of cauliflower. Note the dirt! Good sign!

Because we live in an area where frost is rare and the ground doesn’t freeze in winter, fresh local produce is available year-round. But it means forgetting about zucchini and tomatoes.

Always my first stop: Serge Claret, who farms near Montreal, a very pretty village west of Carcassonne.

At the Saturday market I gathered photos from my favorite maraîchers, or vendors, who also grow all their own produce. There’s plenty of variety, even in the dead of winter.

Rutabagas, top; “ball of gold” turnips, bottom.
Regular turnips. Great in soup (or couscous!)

Take radishes. There are the red variety, like the first photo. But also black or blue.

What do you do with these giants? You can dice them up in a soup or slice or grate them to eat raw in a salad. Speaking of salad, there are many kinds of lettuce and such, including piles of single leaves of roquette (rocket or arugula), cresson (watercress), chicorée (chicory) frisée (curly endive) or escarole but not iceberg. No loss there.

Laitue. Don’t be surprised to find a slug or two inside, because it wasn’t doused with pesticides.
Salade feuille de chêne–oak leaf lettuce.
Mâche, or lamb’s lettuce.

I don’t count lettuce as a vegetable. It’s like a condiment, a nice thing to eat on the side, a crisp break between the main course and the cheese course, but you still need a vegetable, or you need to eat a truckload of lettuce. The Carnivore argues that a few tired* leaves of laitue are all you need, and that fish, poultry, eggs and dairy could possibly count as vegetables because they aren’t meat. Logical.

Carrots. With or without the green tops.
Carrots of other colors.
Panaïs or parsips, here in purple, but often white as well.


We even have kale in Carcassonne. Moving up in the world.

Muriel Vayre has a truck farm along the Aude river, below la Cité. You can buy directly from her at the farm, as well.

Kale may be new and trendy in France, but cabbage comes in many varieties and is cheap.

These guys are ginormous.

Did you know that calling somebody a cabbage is a term of endearment? Mon chou and p’tit chou are like saying “honey.” (Don’t call anybody miel in French!) The teacher’s pet is the chouchou. And a petit bout de chou is a small child.

Chou rave, aka kohlrabi.
Celeri rave, or celeriac, is a favorite of school menus, grated as a salad similar to coleslaw with a mayo-style dressing called remoulade. These beasts serve a crowd.


Topinambour, or sunchoke, can substitute for potatoes, and are prepared the same way.

Betteraves, or beets, are sold raw or roasted, like here, and also come in many colors.

Alain and Juliette Fumanel‘s stand is another favorite. M. Fumanel is known to all as “Fufu,” and usually is in highly amusing conversation with his many friends and clients. And Mme. Fumanel is always very elegant. I go directly to their farm near Pont Rouge in summer for tomatoes and the other vegetables I put in my tomato sauce.

“Fufu” is wearing the cap.

Check back on Friday for a special recipe using a purchase from the market: Swiss chard.

*Re “tired” lettuce: some people like to “fatigue” the salad by dressing it a few hours before the meal, so it isn’t as crisp. They actually do it on purpose.

25 thoughts on “Eating Seasonal Produce: Winter

  1. I was in the Uk last week and it was big news that there is a lettuce shortage!!!

    We always eat seasonal veg or, if we really want something, we buy it frozen!

    My pet name for my fiancé is mon petit choufleur 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Strange weather this year. Our veggies come from Calif. and Mexico. Some veggies come from the lower Mainland BC. We can get greens locallly from greenhouses here sometimes in the winter. 25cm of snow last week….most gone now….10° this week. The daffodils are blooming through the snow….yes very bizarre.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. In our village we have had a huge tempest, but when we went to Carcassonne, the sun was peeking through the clouds and it wasn’t rining. Go figure! But warm! I was wearing a sweater and it was too much.


  3. What a colourful post! I learned several new things — there’s a Montreal in France? And the translation for topinambour, which I always wondered about. But as this veg doesn’t seem to exist elsewhere, I had no reason to seek it out. Oddly, my post planned for tomorrow is on a slightly similar theme, although far less educational. Great minds?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you can find topinambour in the supermarket (I don’t usually go to the produce aisle). I realized many of the vegetables are roots. We don’t give them their due.
      There are Montreals all over the place, well on hilltops anyway. The one near Carcassonne has breathtaking vistas.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love to go to the market on Saturday as I love to see what interesting fruits and vegetables are going to show up, all locally grown. I have discovered somethings that I did not know grew in the winter in the South.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Another name for topinambour is Jerusalem Artichoke, the Jerusalem part apparently coming via girasol (sunflower), and artichoke for the flavour of the cooked roots. I love the taste, but they don’t agree with me!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A beautiful blog post. I live where the winters do freeze the ground, so we work hard to have a space where things can grow even in the coldest conditions, but its limited. Everything looks so tasty! I especially loved those cabbages…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.