The small city of Martigues is located at the point where the waters of the Mediterranean Sea and the Etang de Berre meet. Sometimes referred to as the Provençale Venice, Martigues is attractive. There is a series of small canals, tiny pedestrian-only streets and attractive cafes.
Thursday is market day in Martigues, and that is where Ginger and Nutmeg met up with Ghyslaine and her husband Jacques. Aside from being a lovely couple, they run a successful company focused on top quality cooking classes. Appropriately named, La Cuisine Mèditerranéenne de Ghylaine, is focused on traditional cooking and techniques from the region.
A visit to the market in Martigues is appealing, there is easy parking access and a reasonable balance of local producers, quality re-sellers and reliable seafood vendors. Martigues may not be Venice; but the Côte Bleue, palm trees and fishermen are still a pleasant image.
On a beautiful morning, the foursome walked through the two sections of the Martigues market. Ghyslaine had decided that the day would be focused on ingredients that Ginger and Nutmeg would mostly likely never find in Calgary.
Always smiling, Jacques pulled the shopping cart around while Ghyslaine filled it with goodies including the following:
- Figue de Barbarie (prickly pear)
- Courge (large orange squash that looks like a pumpkin)
- Encornets (squid)
- Poulpe (octopus)
- Petit Violets (unique shellfish, iodine gives it the color)
- Tellina (local shellfish only available within a specific geographic area, where the waters are suitable)
- Panisse (made with chickpea flour, a traditional Marseille street food)
- La Brousse du Rove (a specialty goat cheese from La Rove)
By 11:30am, the market cart was full, and it was time to follow Jacques and Ghyslaine back to their lovely home in Salon. Over the next couple hours, under careful instruction Ginger and Nutmeg rolled up their sleeves and helped to prepare a scrumptious lunch.
The meal started with a glass of slightly sweet white wine that paired perfectly with the appetizers; pouple salad, tellina steamed in parsley and butter and calamari cooked on the outdoor plancha grill. The main course consisted of spinach stuffed squid in a tomato sauce, fried panisse and courge gratiné. Impossible to imagine, that they could actually eat dessert after that menu, but they did! Dessert included; a heavenly multi-fruit clafoutis and a few bites of figue de Barbarie.
Ghyslaine, ever gracious took Ginger and Nutmeg on the walk that they needed, to visit her favourite spots in Salon. They stopped to look at delightful little restaurant spot En Aparthé(s) and spice store Souffleur d’Epices. Ginger and Nutmeg headed home after a fabulous day at the market with a real expert. They had water for diner.
Here, is Ghyslaine’s recipe for Encornet Farcis aux Épinards (squid stuffed with spinach).
- 6 Medium Squid
- 1 Cup Frozen Spinach, or equal amount cooked of the fresh stuff
- 1 Medium Onion, chopped
- 3 Cloves Garlic, crushed
- ⅓ Cup Parsley, finely chopped
- 1 Large Egg
- 2 Tablespoons Tomato paste
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1 Stick Fennel
- ¼ Cup Bread crumbs
- 2 Cups Water
- 1 Cup Dry White Wine
- 2-3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- Piment Espelette (or medium paprika), to taste
- Cook the spinach in a heavy casserole pan with a little bit of salt
- Clean the squid by removing the head and innards from the outer part (main body)
- Cut the head just after the eyes and remove the cartilage
- Clean well in cold water to remove any sand or bad bits
- Chop the head and tentacles finely
- In another pan, cook with chopped onion, in a bit of oil, add salt and pepper as necessary
- Add garlic, parsley and cooked spinach
- Cook for a few minutes
- Add the breadcrumbs and mix well
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly
- Add egg, salt and pepper, mix well
- Stuff the squid body with the spinach mixture, until slightly over ¾ full
- Do not overfill
- Close the tops with toothpicks
- In a heavy saucepan on medium heat, fry the squid in a bit of oil until it starts to turn slightly pink
- Remove the squid and set aside
- Add tomato concentrate, wine, water, bay leaves, fennel stick and Piment Espelette to the pot
- Mix well
- Place the squid in the sauce, cover and cook on medium heat for about 45 minutes