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May 6, 2011

Sacre vache!

I spied these moos right across the pont-canal from Diggy.

My hood here in Francey is known for many things: splendid wine, beautiful paysage, succulent snails... but there's a reason I call it Cow Country. On a drive in most any direction from this fair metropolis, you can't not notice the great white beasts strolling along their hedged enclosures and mooing to their hearts' content. 

I love them so, and I tell anyone who asks me what I will miss most about France that "mes amies, les vaches" are high up there. My conversation partner Solange invited me to St. Christophe-en-Brionnais this Wednesday for the weekly marché so we could get a closer look at my favorite fauna, and sweetened the deal by saying we'd be accompanied by a woman is is the daughter, wife, and mother of cow farmers.

Dairy air. (Get it? Like derrière?)

The St. Christophe market started more than 500 years ago, and though it isn't as large as it once was it still attracts 1,000-1,500 head of cattle each week. Until a few decades ago all transactions were done in cash, and buyers would come to the market with their pockets bulging with franc notes. Solange's friend Michelle said her husband used to put all his money in the pockets of one pair of pants, and then wear a second pair on top of them for security.

O hai.

A tourist's typical day at the market includes a behind-the-scenes tour of the cows' holding pen and a quick stop in the auction room. Afterwards, most will dine at the nearby Le Mur D'Argent restaurant, which offers up a hot steaming plate of boeuf charollaise-- said to be one of the best in the whole wide world. It's just another example of how close the French are with their food: the thought of eating their favorite cow's brother or sister doesn't phase them one bit.

For just 1.500 Euros, one of these pretty ladies can be yours!

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