Saturday, January 10, 2009

Le Quai des Belges Daily Fish Market ~ Marseille (10/09)

As you would expect from a large city on the Mediterranean Sea, Marseille boasts an amazing daily fish market which starts about 8:00 in the morning, lasting until some time around 1:00 in the afternoon.

While I'm not a seafood fan, I've had an intolerance all of my life, I could appreciate the beauty, value and history of this market. You know what you are looking at was just caught hours before from the Mediterranean. This isn't only a way of life for the fishermen (and women), it is part of the culture of Marseille, and has been for years. You have not only generations of families going out to sea to make a living, but generations of people that have been relying on them for fresh fish. This truly gives meaning to the term "buying local". There was such an energizing atmosphere that I was able to overlook the smell that usually sends me looking for a bucket to soak up the experience. I mean, I'm in Marseille!!! I've seen this market in many travel and cook books, and I was actually there. It was such an exhilarating experience, and I'm so glad that I was able to go.

Each vendor has a blue table with sides to contain the mess (for lack of better term) which are also marked with their vendor code and in most cases their name.
This was the first Rascasse Rouge (brown sea scorpion) I had ever seen in the flesh, so to speak. This is a staple ingredient in making an authentic bouillabaisse.

"GU MA861363" looked very familiar to me, and I later discovered that he was familiar because his photo is in several of my travel and cook books. I didn't know that there was going to be some celeb siting at this market!
With lovely views of the harbor, weather permitting, I'd say every day is a "good day at the office".
This sign reads "Soupe 10€ kg". It was just a melange of sea creatures, but obviously bouillabaisse comes to mind. What also comes to mind is a show that I used to watch in England called Ready, Steady, Cook. I think that there may have been a US version on the Food Channel as Ready, Set, Cook. Anyway, each episode an audience member was give an allowance to go and buy a bag of random groceries to present to the dueling Celeb Chefs. Dueling chefs aside, I would love to see what Lisa from Heart & Thistle would come up with. She has some of the most amazing looking seafood dishes I've seen prepared at home.

The market adds such a strong presence to the square that it is so bare and sort of sad when they are gone. There is comfort in the knowledge that tomorrow is another day, and the market will be back with their catch du jour.


Indigo said...

I very much enjoyed reading your story, I love fresh fish.. the sea air.. people. I will be back to read some more.

Amy Jemima said...

Thank you :-)

Jane King said...

Reading this inspired me i went and brought some prawns :-D not quite as fresh but made me crave seafood! i went to greece one with mattress head cant remember which island but think it was Zakinthos and we went to the most amazing seafood restuarant it was right on the beach you sat outside with all little tea lights everywhere and the food was heaven. i shall never foget that. Also with mattress head i went to a seafood place in Whistable in kent which is really famous Christpher biggins was in there !! anyway i ordered a crab platter and it was gross! It was undressed and surrounded by shell fish that tasted like it was scraped off the sea bed everything was raw and tasted of sea water i shall never forget that either but for wrong reasons. Cost a bloomin fortune too :) Of mattress heads money ha ha ha!

Amy Jemima said...

How did your prawns turnout??? I remember when you went to Greece with Matress Head! You bought me a bracelet and charm that i still wear! I rememeber you saying about the place on the beach too! The place in Kent sounds vile. Do you think it was a new chef or off night or something? At least MH paid for it :-) BTW: It is freezing here! Will e-mail you more this weekend. x

funkymonkey said...

Your photographs conjure up a really vibrant and bustling port. I prefer eating chocolate to fish though!

Amy Jemima said...

Thanks, and I'm completely with you on the chocolate! said...