Every Wednesday and Saturday morning, lazy little Saint-Laurent buzzes with early morning activity … le marché … it's Market Day. As the steam rises off the river, a couple of streets inland, vendors are setting up their colorful little tents and kiosks and unpacking their fruits and vegs.
Big orange barricades are moved into place to cordon off several blocks of Avenue Felix Eboue and if you want the best of the best, you need to get there by 0730.
There's a fresh fish truck, la poissonnerie, with the morning's catch all iced up and on display. The butcher has his own truck as well and folks line up to buy their beef, goat or maybe pig trotters. One woman sells rotisserie chickens at €11 each which appears to be a fair price since people line up to buy them. One vendor sells snow cones made the old-fashioned way by scraping a big block of ice into a plastic cup and coating it with any number of sweet, sugary, neon-colored syrups.
We wander up and down the aisles playing our two favorite market games: Name that veg and What's that fruit? We like to try new and different produce, but we have to have some idea of what to do with them. The dragon fruit we bought and tried was excellent. We just cut it in half and scooped out the bright red, kiwi-tasting pulp with a spoon.
When you can identify the fruit or veg in English, it's a little easier. Courgettes are what Americans call zucchini and aubergine is eggplant. Tomate and salade are no brainers...tomato and lettuce. But what about ...concombres piquant … prickly cucumbers? We were told they're not good to eat raw...so what do you do with them? Something we need to find out more about.
Okra aka caloux is big here. In the best of situations, slimy okra is not on our our favorites list.
There are lots of interesting looking peppers and herbs and greens to choose from. There are regular green and red capsicum (bell peppers) as well as a myriad of hot peppers like Scotch bonnets, and of course, Cayenne peppers which were named after French Guiana's capital city.
...and piles of fresh melons …
and long, long green beans.
Surinamese women from across the river sit on upturned buckets offering “yonyon-nay”. Hmm... it took me awhile to figure out that French is not their native tongue and what they're saying in a singsong voice is “onions-ail”...onions-garlic?
Hidden in the midst of several stalls is a bronze statue. The name plaque is long gone, but the animated children portrayed in the statue really caught our attention. The little boy has a fish on his pole and the little girl is hugging a monkey.
There's a central market building midst all the stalls. Mixed smells of food cooking, sweat, rotting vegetables, spices and sweets greet you as you walk through. It's hot, poorly ventilated and crowded. The traditional offering here is Soupe Pho, a local Hmong specialty consisting of broth, rice noodles and meat or chicken, and usually consumed for breakfast … by the Hmong and everyone else. We're told it's delicious and it's on our “try it” list before we depart French Guiana.
We attend the market twice weekly, purchasing our freshies for half the week, as well as being totally entertained for the morning. The best part? Heading home and having fresh pawpaw (papaya) with homemade yogurt for breakfast (and a croissant and cafe, of course).