SECTION A: NON-FICTION
In this extract from Emma Kennedyʼs The Tent, the Bucket and Me, the author and her family visit a market in France.
Aix market was a fairground of treats. Used to the scrappy English equivalent where, if you were lucky, someone might be selling some maggot-eaten apples or some low grade Soda Stream machines, I was amazed by the sheer quantity of goods on offer.
A maze of stalls was spread wide, striped canopies rippling in the breeze, and each one was packed, not only with fresh fish, ripe produce, but with things I had never seen before: huge, purple-veined bulbs of garlic hanging on the stem, bunches of bound dried flowers heavy with scent, barrels of exotic nuts and fruits, peaches the size of a boxerʼs fists, cheeses in their whole state with plates of free samples to taste, iced-fish stalls with fish Iʼd never even heard of, heaped and sizzling sausages that gave off the most wonderful deep bouquet and, best of all, an extraordinary mobile rotisserie that had at least a hundred birds, chickens, geese, duck, guinea fowl, partridge – all slowly turning as they roasted and, again, giving off the most delicious aroma that filled the air so thickly, you could taste it. There was an air of the barbaric too: poultry stalls where the heads were still on the chickens sent chills through me, as did the cages of live poultry from which birds were dragged out, wings flapping, only to be tied together by their feet and tossed into panniers or hung over the back wheel of a bicycle, squawking with protest as they went.
Mum was in her element, wafting about in a floor-length white cotton Laura Ashley skirt with huge milkmaid pockets. ʻI feel well posh in this,ʼ she had said, putting it on in the cramped confines of the tent. As far as my mother was concerned, the trip to the market was a treat on a par with a night out at the theatre and, ever mindful that
French women were in a permanent state of immaculate presentation, she was keen to blend in. Her appearance, however, rather than melting her into the crowd, was having the opposite effect. She was drawing attention. She had clearly overdone it and, as we walked, it was noticeable how many heads were turning.
Over to the left of the market there was a small gathering of people, circled around something that, as yet,…