Since 1993, the Jean Talon Market and the other public markets throughout the city, have given the people of Montreal the freshest produce and best products. Within minutes of arriving, it is clear that the markets are a vital part of the community. To be clear, this is not like the farmer’s markets we are accustomed to (I've posted some pictures below). The bulk of the market is made up of fruit stands, but there is fresh fish (including lobsters), meats, candles and soaps, cheese, baked goods, there are also actual storefronts within the market and around the perimeter.
The aromas are incredible all throughout the market, and for me, one of the most memorable parts (maybe I was more aware of the scents from the class yesterday). We first entered and the intense smell of fresh fish attacks you, but in a good way. That fresh, briny, ocean smell that some find too much, I find reminds me of Marblehead Harbor. There was even an oyster stand where you could actually try the oysters before you bring them home (most stands were very generous with there samples; only making the experience better). Five or six stands down and a new aroma overtakes you. This time of lavender and an overall sense of relaxation as the scents of hand-dipped candles and huge blocks of handcrafted soaps of all shapes and colors take over.
I was only in the lavender world for a few minutes before my nose got distracted with a familiar smell. The smell of fresh squeezed orange juice, which brought me back to days spent at my grandparent’s in Florida when I was younger, where they'd spoil the grandchildren with fresh squeezed OJ in the morning. It didn’t take long to track it down and discovered “Mangue et Melon”—a juice/smoothie bar. Needless to say, I got a smoothie.
Feeling refreshed and enjoying the live street music of guitars and accordions (who knew accordions could be so enjoyable? It really was one of the first times I actually felt like I was in a different country) we stumbled upon a mushroom/specialty herb stand. We sampled what was described to us as epinard de mer and persil de mer (ocean spinach and ocean parsley)—big, green luscious leaves with an ever so slightly salty taste. I could definitely see Chef Lynne having some fun with this!
The amount of fresh fruit and veggies is incredible and is definitely the prominent smell…the smell of the summer. Fresh berries, fresh tomatoes, melons, corn and more all blend into this one super scent that makes it really hard to resist buying one of everything!
Thanks Montreal for a truly nose-worthy experience!
Your foodie friend,