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Herb Fever: A French Alchemist at Market


Herb Fever: A French Alchemist at Market

February 1, 2014

Our friend Mimi Giboin just got back from a trip to France (she was visiting her parents, who live in the town of Royan on the southwest coast). Lucky for us; she pulled out her camera and took some snaps of an out-of-the-ordinary herb stand run by Christine Bouquet (yes, that’s her name) at the local farmers’ market.

“Christine’s stall is bit disheveled, in a good way,” Mimi says. “The herbs she offers, you just don’t find them anywhere else in the market. She specializes in seasonal and forgotten varieties of herbs, spices, and heirloom tomatoes. Christine’s mother raised and sold flowers, and Christine worked alongside her throughout her school years. She ended up buying her grandparents’ farm, and now she runs an organic herb, vegetable, and spice garden. She works from dawn until dusk; she’s on a mission to make us comfortable using foreign flavors in cooking.”

Christine can be found at the Central Market Royan, facing the boulevard Aristide-Briand (on the weekend off-season and daily in season).

Photography by Mimi Giboin.

Above: Christine’s stand, laden with her herbal harvest.

Above: Braided garlic bulbs hanging from a pole.

Above: Mint and sage on display.

Above: Christine at her stand.

Above: Christine stacks wooden crates to display her produce.

Above: A wheat sheaf braided around the head of a garlic flower.

Above: One of Christine’s favorites, salicornia is a briny, crunchy succulent that grows in the regional marshes. We recently spotted salicornia at Far West Fungi in San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza, and you can occasionally source it at Earthy Delights. For a Sea Bean Salad recipe, go to Honest Food.

Above: An array of tomatillos.

Above: Vintage scales used for weighing produce.

Above: L’hélichrysum Italicum, a flowering plant of the daisy family, or what Christine calls the “curry plant” (she uses it in Indian cooking).

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N.B.: This is an update of a post originally published September 2, 2013.

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