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On Sunday, I drove to Longueil to pick up a former classmate, JF, then travelled onwards to Rougement, Quebec — a mecca for apples. His extended family there, Maurice and Lorraine, awaited us, a Quebec flag flying proudly in the yard. They own an orchard that extends a good hundred metres before giving way to a field of maize. We picked apples, primarily Cortlands, which will later be sold in Montreal. The not-so-pretty apples are sold to restaurants that turn them into apple pies. The pretty ones, “les belles,” are sold to be eaten as is.

After a break at noon for some asparagus soup, we returned to the orchard, and a local family joined our team. The children did more eating than picking, and also tormented the dog, Jeudi, but nevertheless, by about half past three, the full extent of Maurice’s ambitions for that day had been accomplished. JF and I filled up a basket each to take home — mine was a mix of Cortlands, Redcourts, and Spartans — then we returned to Montreal.

Now I have a large quantity of delicious apples and only a limited amount of time to eat them before they go bad. Any suggestions of recipes that will make use of my excess apples are greatly appreciated.

***

Meanwhile, work continues apace on an article I’m writing about Littly Burgundy, a neighbourhood tucked away down the hill from downtown. Yesterday, I interviewed a proprietor of a local business — the Burgundy Lion, a high-end pub — as well as a communications officer from Atwater Market. As the article concept starts to take form, it looks as though food will play a prominent part. The resurgence of this neighbourhood has been fuelled largely by the renaissance of the market and the establishment of local restaurants that draw in numerous local residents, as well as Montrealers from further afield.

My interviewee at Atwater said something that stuck with me. She said markets are like “the new churches.” They are centrepieces of neighbourhoods; the life of the community revolves around them. Proximity to a major market is a big advantage for people selling condos or renting out apartments. I know, speaking personally, that my own short walk to Jean Talon Market has greatly improved the quality of my life.

One thing I won’t need to buy at the market any time soon?

Apples.

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