Although I grew up in a city in Virginia with twice the population of Carcassonne, we still weren’t that far from the farms that produced a lot of the food we ate. Leisurely Sunday afternoon drives would take us out into the country where our parents could buy vegetables that had been picked that morning and we could have them for dinner that night. I remember as a child being overwhelmed by the huge burlap sacks holding 50 pounds (23 kilograms) of peanuts, standing taller than I did at the time. Recently, although our backpacks weren’t quite that heavy (but felt that way), we did bring back from the market a woven bag of 5 kilograms (11 pounds) of onions. At a cost of only 1.49 euros for that entire sack, it was hard to pass up.
We generally buy one kilogram of onions for one euro, so you can understand why we jumped at this bargain. Now we just have to figure out what to do with all of those before they go bad. On the walk home we had time to brainstorm some ideas: onion tart, French(!) onion soup, onion and cream pizza, Indian onion bhaji (fritters), and long a favorite, deep fried onion rings. Since we use a couple of them every night anyway, with these additional recipes in mind I don’t think we’ll have any trouble.
The same day we brought that 5 kilogram sack home, we also found a much smaller package but just as local as the onions, of rice. That surprised me enough to check out this region’s Department of Agriculture website to see what else might come from a stone’s throw of here. Apparently only 15% of the fields surrounding Carcassonne are under cultivation and naturally grapes figure prominently in those numbers. Sunflowers do too as do other crops well-suited for a Mediterranean climate like olives and almonds. The terrain is varied enough that hills not covered with grapevines are likely to be turned over to potatoes and apples. Speaking of potatoes, we could have also brought home a 25 kilogram (55 pounds) sack of spuds for 3 euro but with our feet being our mode of transportation, we left those for the next time.