As I have often remarked, one of my favorite activities here in Paris is shopping at the open air market in Place Maubert on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. I am particularly partial to a little stall at the extreme west end of the market where a cheerful man sells quail, duck, rabbit, and such like things. When I cook rabbit, I will ask for a “demi-lapin, sans tête.” The patron picks up a whole skinned rabbit, neatly splits it up the middle, and then cuts off the half-head and chops the remainder into four or five pieces before wrapping it up for me. [I suspect real French cooks have something they do with the head, but I am just as happy to have it gone. The quail come with heads also, which he twists off with a quick gesture.]
For some time now this booth has been a part of the market only on Thursdays and Saturdays, so when we arrived on Tuesday morning, I did not expect to see him. Instead I bought a lovely dorade royale [filet sans peau, which is to say filleted without the skin]. But when I went to the market on Thursday, the game man was not there! I was devastated. I mean, it is nice that the TV works – one never knows. But this was serious.
Happily, he was there today. I asked, and he explained that on Thursdays now he stays home and rests. He is, to be sure, looking somewhat older than when I first found him twelve years ago, but I think he has a responsibility to his customers and to France! So I bought a nice coquelet [basically a small chicken midway in size between a Cornish Hen and a roasting chicken]. I will stuff it with a mixture of pearl onions, sliced mushrooms, chopped up nuts and cut up prunes, and then roast it slowly in my oven until it is golden brown and the stuffing is all cooked and merged. I will accompany that with some courgettes mandolined [i.e., zucchini sliced thin] and sautéed, and slices of what we call in America an heirloom tomato. It should do nicely.