Le Campanier, a Lucky Bag of Produce

Le Campanier, a Lucky Bag of Produce

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.

  • http://www.obsessionwithfood.com Derrick Schneider

    Melissa and I have thought about doing the US equivalent–a subscription to a Community Supported Agriculture service.

    Some of them here allow you to select which vegetables you’ll get, but I think we’re going to go for the surprise as well. It’s more of a challenge.

    If you ever get veggies that you just don’t know what to do with, I recommend Elizabeth Schneider’s (no relation) Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini. Lots of good info on lots of unusual vegetables.

  • http://www.melissanicoledesign.com Melissa

    I, too, love parsnips. They have a very unique flavor with so much depth. We seem to have re-discovered them in the last year, and so reading your theory about parsnips being forgotten (perish the thought) makes me wonder. It turns out I have a great love for all root vegetables that I didn’t grow up eating.

    Derrick has prepared them in many delicious ways: creamed like mashed potatoes, cut in small pieces and sauteed in duck fat, and more. Yum!

  • Amy

    I love this idea! I just emailed them for their nearest ‘points de vente.’ I may do the 4-week trial as well, just to see.

    P.S. I told them that chocolateandzucchini sent me :-)

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Derrick – I’m sure you would indeed love the challenge. Sometimes an ingredient constraint just heightens creativity, doesn’t it? And thanks for the book recommendation, it would indeed be a nice reference book to add to my collection! *Plus* it has “zucchini” in the title! :)

    Melissa – I agree, parsnips have a very subtle taste, a little sweet, with a great texture. I wish it were easier to find! Oh and yesterday at a British good store, I saw little bags of parsnip chips : this must be delicious!

    Amy – Oh, I hope they have a point de vente near you, it would be fun if you tried this too, you could tell me the uses you’ve found for your paniers!

  • http://www.cookingwithamy.com Amy

    I also use an organic produce delivery service–it’s great. As for the avocados here are some tips:

    To get hard ones to ripen, place them in a paper bag with an apple–the gas from the ripe apple will ripen the avocado in no time

    To keep them from spoiling–store them in the refrigerator or better yet, eat them!

    California is the home of the avocado so we eat them a lot. But they have gotten very expensive and you sometimes read about “avocado rustlers” who steal from the orchards. Crazy!

  • Taya Kolstad

    Clotilde,

    I have found your site via Supereggplant. Mariko tells me it is one of her favorites. I love your recipes and photographs – they are so inspiring. I read your Mariage Freres entry from November and I can’t agree more. When I was in Paris for two weeks I went to their tearoom in the Marais three times. I felt I was at the mecca of tea. Thank you for your lovely postings.

  • http://gastroblog.com Jackie

    I too have considered doing one of these organic box schemes — you can participate here in the UK for as little as £5 per week in some areas. For info on the British version, check http://www.freshfood.co.uk

    I had never had a parsnip till I moved to the UK (for real!), but I love them roasted with honey. And yes, parsnip crisps are delicious (so are sweet potato crisps).

    Oh, and I cracked up at the thought of you making a little bed for the vegetables! Don’t forget to bring them cocoa in the morning…

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Amy – Excellent avocado tips, thank you!

    Taya – You are quite welcome, thanks for the lovely compliments!

    Jackie – I’m sure you would love this too! And you are quite right about the cup of cocoa for the parsnips. Must remember that! :)

  • Adele

    Parsnips are wonderful in soup; I always add them to my chicken soup. They’re also wonderful roasted with other root vegetables like beets and turnips — drizzle with olive oil and roast in a hot oven for about 45 minutes or so, then sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.

    One of my favorite winter meals is braised short ribs, served with a creamy smooth puree of potatoes and parnsips. Yum!

  • http://click.dontvisit.com click

    someone recommended a book for vegetables when you don’t know what to do with them. i wanted to recommend alice water’s chez pannise vegetables book–she’s also got one on fruit, and it’s done a-z as well and tells you not only ways to prepare but recipes and compliments.

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Click – Thanks for the recommendation! We had dinner Chez Panisse a couple of years back : great food, and a lovely evening…

    Adele – Mmmh, yes, roasting pasrnips sounds like a great idea!

  • http://katiehumphry.com Katie

    I, too, have an organic box of fruit and vegetables delivered – and I love it. I think it makes me diet more diverse, and I really enjoy planning what I’m going to cook with the box’s contents.

  • Mavis

    I know this is an old entry but I’ve just stumbled upon it and I must be the first to say that parsnips oh glorious parsnips are far from forgotten here in the UK! They are merrily roasted alongside their inferior and somewhat common cousins the potatoes and add interest to many a winter sunday roast (oh famous English lunch!) and furthermore (if I may add more) no Christmas dinner on this fair isle would be complete without a little parsnip nestled on the plate. Visit any British greengrocer or supermarket (when in season!) and a veritable glut of parsnips will greet you! I am told however by my jolly french chums that parsnips are for horses – well lucky old horses I say!

  • Chrispa

    ripening bananas give off a gas that helps speed up ripening of avocados.

  • http://glutenfreesleuth.blogspot.com Becky

    I know this is a very old post, but I ran across it as I was doing a search on cooking with live foods. I wanted to mention that I was speaking to an Hispanic woman in a store who told me that her mother puts avocados in her flour to ripen them. I haven’t tried it, because I can’t eat gluten and stay away from flour, but it might be worth a try.

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