France Covid Summer
Text and photos by Chef Joey
Cannes: It’s the summer of 2021, masks are “off the face” if you are vaccinated and, of course, mandatory if not. While I was in the states no one wore masks. Here in France, you must wear a mask in every store, every restaurant, bar and hotel. Once seated in an establishment, you may remove your facial mask. Next week there will be scanners installed at bars and restaurants. You need to present your “QR” code that you are vaccinated or have proof of a negative covid test that is less than 72 hours old. So, unless you want to pony up each time and have a negative test on your person, there goes your spontaneous dinner plans!
On the other side of the COVID tests and masks are a plethora of open markets, artists back in the squares selling merchandise, people social distancing while standing in line for ice cream and open markets. Open markets date back centuries: you can go to them every morning and get your fresh (mostly locally grown) veggies, fruits that are in season, cheeses, meats and fresh fish. There are also markets that sell clothing, shoes, tableware, clothing, handbags, wine, watches and you can even find someone cooking up a local specialty, so you don’t have to make lunch. All this at a fraction of the cost of a store, and these people work hard every day – 6 a.m. start to noon and out by 12:30.
What happens is you start to find your vendor, then you follow them if its for clothing, they know your size and style, so when you see them it’s a given! The favorite egg farmer, the one who sells tomatoes all year, the list goes on and on, and pretty much all the food is organic – so it’s a good thing.
These markets are not limited to France. I had friends from Boston here, and on Monday we went to Val de Croce, Italy,followed by a great seaside meal and wine, of course.
Every time you see a village, know there is an open market, where people are working hard, now wearing facial masks in the Age of COVID. But the good thing is you don’t need a “QR” code to go there and socialize!