French traditional markets

In France, there are lots of traditional markets. They're mostly open once or twice a week and packed with people. There are various groceries from France or nearby countries. There are also antiques, food, and clothes. It's a lot of fun, and the groceries are fresh. So I go to traditional markets more than supermarkets.

Unlike in supermarkets, in traditional markets, I feel like "I purchase through people." Customers and sellers have a little chat across the counter as well as purchasing.

It is sometimes difficult because I don't speak good French. It's always intimidating when I need to say something complex in an organized way. Especially in butcheries, I need to pay full attention to the conversation because I should explain which part, how much and whether I want it to be cut or trimmed in a certain way.

Once I ordered some meat in a butchery that wasn't on the counter. The seller had the part, but I didn't like it. So I had to explain what kind of meat specifically I wanted. Back then, my French was worse than now. I tried my best, but the seller didn't understand me. I tried to ask again in English, but he said something French that I couldn't understand. So I opened Google Translator and started to type what I meant. And he walked out of the counter, passed by me, and brought another seller from the next stall for translation. But he didn't speak much English either. So three of us tried our best using all sorts of gestures, only to find out they didn't have what I wanted. All of us laughed awkwardly and said goodbye.

I realized that I had prejudices about French. I thought they chose not to speak English because they were proud of the French language. I thought they were all grumpy and arrogant. As I met many people in the market, I realized I was wrong.

A seller at a vegetable stall fiddles with a bunch of herbs while I'm picking some vegetables to buy. After I pay him, he hands over the bunch to me without saying anything. Sometimes it's parsley. Sometimes it's mint or thyme.

A seller at a fruit stall always selects fresh fruits for me from deep inside of the box. When he's not busy, he teaches me some French words and helps me practice.

A seller at another fruit stall speaks really loud and fast. In contrast, I'm slow. She could be annoyed but patiently waits for me until my last word and starts putting vegetables in the basket.

Of course, there are unpleasant people, too. Some people intentionally select bad fruits. There is a seller who always urges me to buy some when I only glimpsed for a second.

I think whether it's in France or Korea, the markets are similar. There are people in the markets. I can purchase through the people. Regardless of the language spoken, there are people that I have good chemistry with and people that I don't. Perhaps it applies to not only markets but also to everywhere. Once I get rid of the stereotypes, it's just people wherever I am.



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