If Terence Conran could sell French country style to the English in the 20th century, why shouldn't I sell English patisserie to the French in the 21st century?
If only it were that easy. I hadn't reckoned on French bureaucracy, weather and good old xenophobia. But hey, life on the traditional French markets is full of surprises so I thought I should share them with the wider world.
After 20 years living in the centre of uber style-conscious London, I shipped out to live in the rural bliss of west central France, leaving all semblance of chic and style behind me together with my manicured nails to live in muddy boots and ripped jeans to work on the 'renovation of our French country ruin'. Eventually finding a need for contact with humanity in whatever form, I came upon the idea of selling fairy cakes to the French. Only problem was; I didn't have a kitchen!
This blog will be a document to the success, or otherwise of my enterprise along with the tales, trials and emotional rollercoasters of life on the market in France. I hope you will enjoy.......

quintessentially English

quintessentially English
........but in France!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Feel-good moments

Today I had a real feel-good moment on the market. After a superb bank holiday weekend with temperatures hitting 30 degrees, we had the inevitable thunder and rain storms for two days, so I was relieved to wake up to dry and warm weather for my market morning! The story starts on my last market, where an acquaintance came by and decided that she would like to buy cakes to offer as a gift for some friends who had invited them for supper. I knew this was a big thing as she has been out of work for at least three years and the family has been surviving on her husband's very poorly paid job in a phsyciatric hospital, and an enormous vegetable garden, so when she said that she wanted four of every kind of cake on the table I felt very privileged. This morning she arrived on the market again and was so pleased to tell me how much the gift was appreciated; apparently each fairy cake was cut into slices so that all the guests could taste every thing, and pass judgement on 'English patisserie'! The stars of the show were my new Lavender cakes and chocolate meringues ( how you slice a gooey meringue into eight, I don't know!)
So today I suddenly became not only her cake provider, but also by default her friend and confidante. It seems that the poor thing has had a really rough time since her childhood, with a mother who used her as a scapegoat for all her own inadequacies, saying that she never wanted her daughter to succeed and succeeding in raising a daughter with no self-confidence whatsoever. After moving to this region from Marseilles to be with her husband she has never managed to find a new job, and has had numerous phsycological difficulties. A mutual friend is a healer and yoga 'guru' ( although she hates that word) and 'La petite Marseillaise' has been working with her on her inner strength and self confidence. Over the past six months she has transformed her outlook on life and is ready to start facing the world again. Today I was privileged to help her a little way along the road because while we were chatting she said that she didn't think she could ever do what I am doing, selling direct to the public, talking with strangers, dealing with money etc, so I said, "Of course you could, if you believe in the product then you can sell it to people" and taking a leap of faith, suggested that she should be the one to sell on my market stall today. Off came the dowdy anorak and on went the smile! La petite Marseillaise' came into her own, talking to complete strangers, albeit with a quavering voice at first she extolled the virtues of my fantastic lavender cakes, speaking with the authority of a 'southerner', muddled up Victoria sandwiches with lemon butterflies, and still managed to recover and sell a selection of cakes to a lady who was adamant that she didn't eat cake! La petite Marseillaise' phoned her husband to say that she was going to be late home for lunch, and really got stuck in. By the end of the market she was a transformed woman, and even suggested to my friendly veg man that she could help him out too if he needed her! So my leap of faith paid off, I had a good sales figure and a new friend who said that the experience was priceless!

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