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I grew up being dragged to flea markets and antique shops by my mom. When she and her sister Sue were together it was even more certain we would spend hours riffling through dusty old artifacts, pill and I learned how to pass the time without too much discomfort. I almost never find anything I want, no rx but my mom and aunt are pro’s at sifting through boxes of junk to find the odd gem.

I never would have imagined when meeting Didier that he enjoyed flea markets as my mom and aunt do. Then I saw him in action. We had driven to a nearby town to visit an annual outdoor market on a drizzly day, and Didier jumped right in. In fact he has the greatest weakness for flea markets I have ever seen. He cleaned one vendor out of every article of clothing she was selling, all to make funny costumes with kids and friends. I swear at least one vendor looked surprised that Didier was willing to buy some of her things. Didier’s wife Evelyne knows of his appetite for flea markets, and limits how much money he can spend.

For me the market was a good excuse to visit a different town and see something new; Didier’s shopping provided added entertainment. Then Janine, one of the wwoofers with us, told me she had seen some pigs being roasted on the spit down the road. My animal senses awoke. I sniffed the air to pick up the scent. I didn’t get anything. The rain must have jammed my receptors! She pointed me in the right direction and I was off with Vanessa to find the food.

Sure enough, in a muddy picnic area set with tables and tents, three suckling pigs were being roasted on the spit. Under them were roasting pans of small new potatoes, peeled and boiled, basting in the roasted pigs’ drippings. To one side a man hand mixed the filling for boudin noir in batches, filled the sausage casing with his mixture, and poached them on the spot. If American flea market organizers knew what the French do, I would have had a lot more fun as a kid.

Two pigs, right off the spit, are carved to-order.

We lined up when the pigs were done and bought two servings, carved hot in front of us, potatoes on the side, plus a section of the boudin noir. Sitting at the picnic table with greasy hands I innocently wondered if we had time to visit any other flea markets before leaving France.

A mixture of pigs’ blood and fat, with herbs, spices, mustard, milk, red wine, and seasoning is stirred by hand in a giant baine marie.

Once ready the liquid mixture is ladled into a funnel, which fills the casing. Lengths of boudin noir are then poached until a pin-prick test reveals they are cooked through.

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