February 8, 2004
Campanier is a porte-manteau pun on "campagne" (countryside), and "panier" (basket). It is also the name of a cool service in which you get a weekly basket of seasonal organic produce. The little Pousse-Pousse boutique at which I recently bought my sprouting gear happens to be a pickup point, and we decided to go for the four-week test subscription.
I went to pick up the first assortment this past Tuesday, and the vegetable basket contained :
- a head of red batavia lettuce,
- a bunch of parsley,
- a small head of cauliflower,
- two avocados,
- two panais (parsnips).
I was really happy to get parsnips : they belong to what is sometimes referred to as "les légumes oubliés" (forgotten vegetables), those vegetables we used to eat a lot in the past, but which have been more or less abandonned : panais, rutabagas, salsifis, pâtissons, crosnes... I have read that most of these were what people had to live on during the second world war, so they were promptly pushed aside after the war, because of the bad memories they brought back. Nowadays these vegetables aren't very widely cultivated and can seldom be found at produce stands. Of course, I find the idea of forgetting a vegetable heart-breaking and cruel and terrible and saddening, it makes me want to save the vegetable and bring it back home and give it love and affection and decorate a little room for it with a little bed it can sleep in. Ahem. Anyway, I was glad to welcome those parsnips into my vegetable drawer.
The small avocados were nice too, because I really love avocados, but have had frustrating experiences with them recently : they would mold before they ripened, or stay hard as rocks forever, long past the time when I planned on using them for some recipe. But these seem to be ripening quite nicely, so I have quickly started a new batch of sprouts to make California sandwiches like I used to love, back in the days.
As for the fruits, my basket contained :
- 8 bananas
- 10 small Gala apples
- 10 mandarins
It was great to have mandarins, because real ones have a very interesting taste, sweet and tart, but are difficult to find : clementines are more widely available. Apparently, this is because they haven't found a way to make seedless mandarins, so people won't eat them. Sheesh. Gala apples happen to be my favorite kind, I love small apples, and these are nice and juicy. Maxence isn't as much of a fruit fan, but bananas he likes, so that was nice too.
I think I'm going to enjoy this Campanier thing a lot. I love the idea of the "pochette surprise" (lucky bag), where you don't know what you're going to get, I like that it stretches the imagination with produce you wouldn't necessarily think of, and that the basket comes with a letter that tells you about the produce, who grew it and where, and gives you storage advice and recipe ideas. As we happen to like (almost) everything, I think this will work for us. The only problem I see is that you have to go pick it up on Tuesdays nights, which can be a little constraining if we have other plans, but we'll see how this works out.
Alain Ducasse Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Paris
Where to buy organic foods in Paris
Twelve Hours in Paris