The virtues of the city of Montreal come in many forms. History tells us that Montreal’s cultural beginnings were derived from both the French and the English. But the life of this city comes from charm of the old city, its harmonious sensibility and leanings towards music, its eclectic multicultural presence and if you are a foodie you cannot miss the cuisine. From the rise of food trucks across the city, to outstanding restaurants, to the farmers markets, you will no doubt have an incredible flavorful food driven experience.
Are you a foodie that loves to cook? Think farmers markets – you have not seen anything till you experience Marché Jean–Talon. Probably the largest Farmers Market, the size of Costco only really fresh with nothing processed or commercial made. Not only is it the largest farmers market in Canada and the United States, it is the grandest in market speak. It is also the oldest market in Montreal. The market originally opened in 1933 under the name “Marché du Nord”, the north end market. The name was later changed. Marché Jean-Talon is open daily all year round.
The market was originally a La Crosse field making the size immense. The field was known as Shamrock and is located in Little Italy. It is composed of over 350 producers who sell everything from fruits, vegetables, meats, specialty items, spices, flowers and more. On the weekend it is a family outing bringing out a colorful array of people and produce. Instead of going to church each week, families spend their morning at the market. Your senses will be tantalized as you sample some of the epicurean delights that can be found throughout Marché Jean-Talon.
Our guide through the market was Ronald Poire, owner of VDM Global. His passion for food and its cultural history were quite evident. To use Ronald’s words, “follow food and you will follow tradition” and that we certainly did as we meandered through the marketplace and along the streets of Little Italy.
In describing the culture of food, history tells us that pasta came from China; the tomato originated in South America and the use of oil in cooking comes from Jewish heritage. Italian cuisine is a blending of all these cultures.
Strolling through the market we sampled Lucum, a Turkish candy with a powdered sugar outer layer. Montreal is known for their cured meats and charcuterie is available at Marché Jean-Talon. They also have marvelous sausage and sampling the various types of sausages is a must at this market. Set foot into one of the bakeries to sample the freshly made bread as we tried a yummy olive bread.
Within the market and in addition to the individual farmers, there is shop, Le Marché des Saveurs du Quebéc, representing the Union Producers of Agriculture, UPA, a coop of 400 local growers, who showcase their products in this store. Here you can find unusual assortment of gourmet items including Rhubarb juice, boar meat, Peminchan, a smoked beef that is similar yet at the same time different than beef jerky.
After Prohibition the majority of wine sold in Canada is through nationalized liquor controlled board outlet or at an establishment owned by the winery or grape grower. One exception is in the instance when a grape grower/farmer is affiliated with the UPA, they can sell their wine at this UPA store. At Le Marché des Saveurs du Quebéc you are able to find some great Canadian wine to purchase.
Like the families that visit weekly, you might want to finish off your jaunt to Marché Jean-Talon by strolling to one of the nearby local Italian coffee houses sipping an Espresso and savoring homemade Cannelloni. It makes for an ideal ending to a perfect foodie day.