Favorite Places In The World – #QC001: Marché Jean-Talon, Montréal, Québec.
Montréal has a special place in my heart, so this will probably not be the only time I mention it on this list.
It was at the Canadian border, while being questioned by a Douane officer that I admitted something very important. In a faintly snowy accent, he asked, “what do you do?” to which I blurted, “I’m a writer.” He didn’t seem to notice how big of a deal that moment was to me. And why would he? This was his job. The question wasn’t special. It was routine, but It was the first time I had really answered this question without hesitation.
I recalled the nuns at my parochial school mentioning the concept of a vocations or calling… and that rusty haired customs agent forced that moment for me. As I exited the Douanes I felt like the bleu et blanc overhead. Proud, complicated, and representational.
Marché Jean-Talon (est. 1933) is, on face value, a farmer’s market in Montreal, but for me it was much more. It was colour and language and culture crashing together.
When I was small, I perfected my reading early by reading aloud all the store signs to whoever was there with me.This was a game my mother created. She would point and I had to read the sign. She made sure not to walk to quickly as we past the bigger words. She waited the right amount of time a la Dora the Explorer before she would help sound-out any of the ones that gave me difficulty.
secretly a stage mom. Because of her: I was able to read before any of the kids in my class…and I still tend to read signs aloud as I walk down the street.
This market reminded me of that game. I loved the bilingual signage. It felt like living flashcards dancing around. I loved and absorbed vocab in French class easily, so this was a frenzy of learning.
The accents of the vendors, the stink of the cheese shop, and the hand-painted signs felt like I was spinning on a tire-swing with all my limbs flailing…but right before the sick-dizzy feeling.
My favorite vendor at MJT was an egg vendor. If you know anything about me know this: a well crafted Bacon, Egg and Cheese sandwich is magic. So seeing that I had been fooling myself with chicken eggs for years when there were Duck and Goose and Turkey and (this list could go on forever) for the savoring was just:
Pablo, my then-partner, was a historian by day/fellow Bacon-Egg-Cheese enthusiast AS WELL AS #cheffoodie by light of moon was just as intrigued by these egg-possibilities.
Every time we ran around MJT we found new eggs and new ways to eat them.
[ASIDE If you have never had Pablo’s Oeufs en Cocotte you haven’t been to Egg Heaven. Yes, that is a place.]
Something about this marché made/makes me happy. Yeah, I know there are lots of farmers’ markets in the world, but this is my list and Marché Jean-Talon is one of my favorite places in the world.