Friday, Part 1: Antiques

As part of my grand prize, Toma The Antiques Diva gave me and Cathy a guided tour of the old Foire de la Brocante et aux Jambons outside of Paris in Chatou. The unlikely combination of ham and antiques turned out to be a winner, and because it was a glorious day and I averaged about 200 photos per day on the trip, I’m breaking it up into two sections. First, the antiques.

I have never wanted to own a home in France quite so much as I did while walking around the fair. Nothing is cheap, but haggling is expected, and if your tastes run to the unorthodox there are deals to be had. I was looking for an old kitchen knife, but didn’t find any. I did find an old ceramic cheese mold, which I bought, and dozens of other items that I would have bought if I had that previously mentioned nonexistent house in France. This trip turned out to be particularly great because despite my best intentions I never actually made it down to Porte de Vanves for the weekend flea market, where I used to go every time I came to Paris.

Here’s Toma, checking out antique jars (and being checked out in return).

Seltzer bottles, which look like an army of antique robot ducks:

Everything is very nicely arranged in elaborate booths. There’s a lot of high-end furniture, china, and silver, but my taste favored the more rustic things.

Right near the exit I spotted a couple of things that I really wanted. This old picnic hamper, with a complete set of tin plates, glasses, bottles, and containers, all in protective wicker sleeves, which made me consider throwing away my carry-on bag and replacing it with this:

Cathy and Toma were very taken with this piece, but like Yogi Bear my heart belonged to the picnic basket.

And last, most appropriate of all, I found this little iron grill with a pig’s head at one end and a tail on the other. I’m still mad at Cathy for refusing to make Dennis carry it home for me.

Toma gives all her clients tote bags, but since I am a dude she had Di, her bag-making person, whip up this bespoke shoulder bag, which is perfect for my camera and the iPad I’m totally going to get one of these days; I had to bring along a rather cumbersome old briefcase/shoulder bag thing to function as my camera bag on this trip, but that will not be a problem in the future.

IT’S EUROPEAN. So many thanks again to Toma for putting this lovely day together. Up next, the ham portion.

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I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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