Thursday, June 3, 2010

This Little Piggy...

This little piggy went to the market. That little piggy stayed home. One little piggy had roast beef while the other little piggy had none.

Here’s your hint: I don’t eat beef… And to ruin the riddle of Guess Which Little Piggy Is Which, the one that went to the market is the same little piggy who tends to three children that are not her own (and after being an Au Pair, having 3 kids is so out of the question). Among the other duties this little piggy manages (while the dad piggy stays home to eat the aforementioned roast beef), she somehow got lassoed into also doing the weekly shopping.

One might think that with my love for all things involving a list (To-do lists, packing lists, bucket lists, shopping list, etc…) that I would find grocery shopping to be an enjoyable affair; but with great chagrin, let me just confess that I hate grocery shopping. Yes, my name is Lauren and I would rather spend an entire day listening to a twelve year-old explain the complete teen Twilight saga until my ears bleed, than grocery shop for a family of five (plus moi). I used to enjoy it (the shopping, not the Twilight). In California, I did; but I was also buying for one person (sometimes two, if you include a pudgy dog or the occasional date night). Furthermore, my grocery jaunts took place at a Trader Joes, which is one third the size of France’s Carrefour market and more times than not, I was eligible for the “10 Items or Less” queue.

Along with grocery shopping, I don’t particularly enjoy meal planning (again, that’s aside from the occasional date night). I would be perfectly content eating vegetable omelets with a side of ketchup or Fage Greek yogurt for the rest of my days, resulting in short and succinct trips to the market. With one lap around the perimeter, I could be in and out in less than twenty minutes with a smile and aplomb, on my way to Golden Spoon Frozen Yogurt a few shops down.

Europeans used to shop in a similar manner: frequenting the quaint little markets for the freshest produce, buying just enough to conclude that day’s meal. But somewhere in the timeline (despite The French’s ridicule for all things American), France became Westernized and those quaint little markets transformed, now rendering a shocking resemblance to those famous “Superstores” that are coming to a neighborhood near you! The assortment of products grew but the patience of customers shrunk. The lines became crowded, the shopping transpired into a chore and in some employee’s distorted logic, the oatmeal became situated in the back of the store next to sanitized shelf milk. I don’t get it, either.

But on this particular week, I rebelled against the crowds, the headaches and the Superstore. I said “no” to the enormous Carrefour and “yes” to the enormous Croix Rousse Open Air Market. A place where one will encounter over a hundred vendors selling the freshest produce from French local farmers. A place so popular, that you spend more time searching for street parking than you do completing your shopping list. A place where the people are pleasant, the air is fresh, the cultures are as varied as the produce, and before you know it, you find yourself immersed in conversation with an elderly Jewish vendor about his recent trip to California. A place where after you lug fifteen kilos of fruit and vegetables to your tiny two-door Twingo, you can walk back to the vivacious market and shop the fashion and household-items side. Then, after some two-plus hours have passed and you realize you only paid for thirty minutes of parking, you wrap up your conversations, take one last visual snapshot and make a bee-line for the Twingo.

To which this little piggy living in France, appropriately went oui oui oui all the way home.

  • Bike rides. Specifically, bike rides before the rest of the family awakes in the morning.

  • I may hate grocery shopping but because I do it, I pick out what we eat, resulting in a fridge full of cherry tomatoes calling my name.

  • The sun is out!

  • I just started reading The Help, and so far, so good.

  • New music aka The Resistance CD by Muse... because Lady Gaga will only take a girl so far.

Photo courtesy of (because apparently everything I bring to France either becomes lost or broken. Camera included.)


  1. I was going to say, "Well, if you do the shopping, you can pick out some stuff you like, right?"... then I saw that in the gratitudes. I don't particularly love grocery shopping anymore either. If I could do it at a leisurely pace, that would be nice, but I get very irritated with masses of people (and I don't understand why they have those mini carts for children to push into my shins).
    Would I like "The Help"?? Do tell!

  2. i adore your posts. i have an extreme love affair with list making, too. i also do love grocery shopping. but i don't think i'd enjoy shopping for a family of five. unless it's my family!

    ps, i truly loveeeee your gratitudes.they are the best!

  3. How much did you enjoy setting up that little piggy joke?

  4. hi lauren! my name is lindsay and i have recently started my first experience as an au pair. i love your blog! it's great to see what other au pairs are up to.

  5. lol i love this post lauren!! i agree with you! food shopping was enjoyable when i was just buying for me and the peanut- now with buying for my parents and taking my grandmother with me id rather clif dive into sub zero temperatures.. and i dont swim! lol
    that market sounds so awesome, i love it!

  6. I entered this site by chance, but I found very interesting. A greeting to all the people who visit this page.

  7. Haha, now you've become like me! You remember how much I hated grocery shopping. I wouldn't go for weeks, until I absolutely had to, and even then Jason usually had to drag me. I think it's boring, but the market looks really fun!

  8. Hi Lauren! You have no idea how I would love to be in France right now avoiding Carrefour and hitting an open air market instead! But nope, I'm here in LA with a kid that won't stop talking and a husband who refuses to pick up his socks. Please enjoy your fabulous life of grocery shopping and bike riding on my behalf! :)

    I have heard so much about The Help!. Please let me know if you recommend it.

    And thank you for your very kind words! Kim is such a nice, sweet person and I know she misses you a lot!

  9. i must admit i am saddeneed to know france is westernizing :( mostly because i want to visit france, or WANTED to because of the culinary history and amazing preparation of food.

    im with you on the omelettes and FAGE! i went through a whole tub of full fat fage yesterday... glutonny is a B&$^(ch