Sunday, March 27, 2011

March 27, 2011: Grenoble - Market, Rain, Musée d'Ancien Eveché, Asperges

Today we bought two new cheeses at the market: Beaufort and St. Nectaire. Both are milder than the Crayeuse we bought yesterday, although the St. Nectaire rind had a similar kind of appearance. We also bought a new kind of charcuterie, which is very smoky and sweet - we've been referring to it as meat candy.

Because it was raining quite heavily, in the afternoon we opted for an indoor activity and visited the Musée de l'Ancien Évêché. It reminds me of the archaeological museum Pointe-à-Callière in Montreal, which is one of my favourites because you go below street level to an archaeological dig. In Montreal it's the first European buildings of a few hundred years ago, but in Grenoble it's the remains of millennia-old Roman city walls and the original Baptistery. Upstairs there were exhibits of Grenoble area residents, from prehistoric times to modern. The tiny dioramas of cave-dwelling prehistoric people made me think of Jean M. Auel's novels set in that time period. The museum building is a very striking contrast of contemporary and historic, along the lines of the Grenoble art museum. The only drawback was that there were no explanatory panels in English - where I could I translated from the French for Mark.

For supper we had white asparagus ("asperges"), which is more commonly seen in the market than the green variety. A new all-asparagus stand had popped up, so it seemed like the time was right to try it. All the recipes agree that it must be peeled - this must be why all the stalks sold are quite stout (whereas in Ontario the thinnest, most tender stalks are prized, and are cooked unpeeled). We enjoyed it, but weren't blown away - it's hard to know if we were eating really fresh asparagus - perhaps we need to wait to see if we can get some picked just that morning from the local region that might be more flavourful.

Lunch! Clockwise from top: smoked charcuterie,  Beaufort cheese, St. Nectaire cheese, Crayeuse cheese

Model of prehistoric settlement, with a 'rainbow' along the perimeter

A computer display about cave dwellings in the local area has a photo of the very same rock overhang I photographed from le Tour Sans Venin the day before! The accompanying information reads: "Located at the foot of the Tour Sans Venin, the Cave of the Sarrasins is a huge overhang that can accommodate an entire village. Shards of pottery and human bones were discovered during excavations and surveys in 1889 and again in 1965. The site has revealed a continuous occupation from the Neolithic to the medieval period."

Examples from Grenoble's famous glove industry

A model shows the 1883 concrete facade of the cathedral (which I heard about on my tour on Friday), which was removed in the 1990 restoration

For some reason this window had a blue film over it, casting an eerie light into the room

A model of the Baptistery as it would have appeared in the 10th century

An ancient lead pipe that supplied water for the Baptistery

Excavation of the Baptistery floor

Excavation of Roman-era walls, several feet below street level

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