Sharpening My Senses at Jean Talon Marche, Montreal

Surely those weren?t peaches, I gasped.

The juicy, succulent fruit I love so much had assumed gargantuan proportions in this most hallowed of markets: Montreal?s Jean-Talon March?, arguably the most famous Farmer?s Market in the world.

Jean-Talon was a sight I was looking forward to throughout my entire trip to Montreal. Being a life-long vegetarian, Farmers? Markets were kind of my thing. I can gaze for hours at the array of fruits and vegetables, wondering whether they?ll go well with curries or fig reduction dressing or what have you. You may say that?s incredibly boring but I find that it spices up my creative juices. Try being creative with a zucchini and you?ll see what I mean.

Walking into Jean-Talon March? is to lose yourself. There are so many vegetable and fruit stands and vendors from all parts of Montreal?s countryside that almost all of its 300 plus stands are bursting with ripe (mostly organic) produce. During the summer, the open-air arcades are dancing with activity and people vying for every last husk of the fresh sweet corn or delicious baked goods.

I was content to ogle everyone shopping. To my left, a chef was cooking a veritable meal. Apparently the market taps into the talents of chefs every now and then so visitors can see the endless possibilities when they purchase produce. Smart! Every Farmers? Market needs to have its own resident chef, I thought. Imagine how wonderful it would be if you?re puzzled about how to cook yellow peppers and you can just wander up to the chef and construe a conversation along these lines:

I?m not sure what to do with yellow peppers?

Have you ever tried a Curried Yellow Pepper Soup? It?s so easy to make and all you need are flavorful spices and a can of coconut milk.

All it took was two sentences and my imagination to send me straight to the aisle that carries coconut milk and you have a happy customer. That?s one of the many ways that Jean Talon Marche is brilliant?and in some sense ahead of its time for an establishment that opened in 1933.

Another aspect of the market that piqued my interest was this open-air model. The market is open all year round, even in the harshest of winters (except that during the winter, walls envelope the market area?.and a good thing too because I don?t like to shop when my fingers are frozen).? But the open air model really works because there?s something beautiful about unbridled sunlight that pours on top of every vegetable and fruit. You can really see the quality of the produce you?re buying.

But the best part? Every sense is heightened when you walk into the market: your eyes are taken in with the blood-red peaches?you hold a bulbous white eggplant in your hand?you can weigh the pretty chanterelles mushrooms and taste delicious, fresh corn on a cob and listen to the chef go on and on about how you can make canap?s for breakfast.

A true moveable feast for the senses.

Jean-Talon marche Montreal Farmers' Market

Jean-Talon marche Montreal Farmers' Market

Jean-Talon marche Montreal Farmers' Market

Those succulent peaches look larger than life

Jean-Talon marche Montreal Farmers' Market

I just wanted to hold one of those adorable white eggplants in my hands

Jean-Talon marche Montreal Farmers' Market

Tasty treats from the chef

Jean-Talon marche Montreal Farmers' Market

Leslie Koch of DowntownTraveler.com enjoys a juicy treat


The colors are jewel-like

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