Monday, May 9, 2016

Seafood in Sete

Sete is a short train trip from Montpellier in the south of France. It sits between the sea and the large estuary (L'Etang de Thau) and is at the end of Canal du Midi.

Ferries run to other Mediterranean ports and also to Spain and North Africa, barges go to inland destinations, and some serious fishing boats look like they might venture as far as Iceland or beyond.

On the train I ran into Jane-Ann and Tim from Sydney. I'd met them the day before in a cafe and we'd eaten together that night at a little vegetarian restaurant, Tripti Kualai, run by followers of Sri Chinmoy.
My ultimate goal is for the power of love
To replace the love of power
Within each individual.
My ultimate goal is for the whole world
To walk together in peace and oneness.
–Sri Chinmoy
From the Sete station we wandered across a pontoon footbridge and along the quayside towards the Office de Tourisime and then got delightfully distracted by the lively Friday street markets. Seasonal artichokes, strawberries, white asparagus and endive, early heirloom tomatoes and globe zucchini. A million types of sausage and cured meats, confitures, cheeses from the local countryside. Huge pans of saffron-coloured paella with prawns the size of lobsters.

 We wandered along the quaysides. Sete is dubbed Venice of the south. Well, quite a different feeling. A bit more gritty and down-to-it. There are also beaches, and a busy container port.

Tim and Jane-Ann had been past Sete a week or so before on a hired canal boat. They'd had a week with Swiss friends travelling down the Canal du Midi, finishing up with crossing L'etang. They hadn't been gone into the canals of Sete for fear of not being able to fit under the railway bridge. For bigger shipping, the bridge swivels open, but only at certain times of the day. Any one interested in doing a trip on the Canal du Midi? Locks and all.

Finally, after all those food stalls and all those fishing boats, lunch!! It is all about seafood in Sete. We shared a platter of local oysters (shucked) that tasted as though they had been harvested that morning. I had moules and frites, a generous pot of tiny tasty moules basted in tons of garlic, wine and butter with fresh herbs (that picture shows only half of the remains), and Jane-Ann had sardines (cooked ones).

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