About the market-crazed author

May 12th, 2006

MarolynI guess an insatiable curiosity is what started it all. When I moved to Finland in 1988, it wasn’t about sleuthing the freshest berries in the market – that came later.  I had long been curious about what living in a Nordic country would be like, and took an offer of a job teaching English in Helsinki. Radical move? Yes, but the timing seemed right and I couldn’t resist. Saturday mornings, the bustling market in Helsinki’s old harbour was my regular stop. The fresh fish stalls were a glistening new world, enticing me to try a variety of fish directly from Baltic waters. When spring came, I joined the locals in the custom of eating fresh green peas directly from a sack, on the spot. And then summer brought bright mounds of berries: sour lingonberries, gigantic blueberries, and an occasional cup of rarer, golden cloudberries from Lapland.

Well, these initial seasons of tasting – and testing a few new twists of the spoon and fry pan – led to trips across the country, then across the Gulf of Finland.  Having worked in textiles and Scandinavian furnishings for five years in Minneapolis, my passion for needlework, basketry and textile traditions was running tandem to curiosity about markets.  I bought fruit-filled pastries in food halls and delicately knit gloves in open markets. In the magnificent city of Stockholm, I followed shoppers underground to a vast subterranean food hall. Smoked salmon, blinis, herring that wouldn’t quit, berries bottled and fresh- a bit of each found a niche in my travel sack.  When the Baltic countries opened to travelers in the early nineties, I ventured to Estonia and on to Riga, Latvia. Riga’s remarkable market takes place in halls that served as World War II dirigible hangars – now lined with meat or fish stalls instead of sheltering enormous blimps!  A later trip led through Vienna to Szeged in southern Hungary, where I sought peppers and fine paprika in the local market.

Travel always included markets or fairs, and my notes taken along the way began to suggest writing a book.  La France Gourmande, A Food Lover’s Guide to French Fairs and Festivals was my first foray into food writing.  The U.K. publisher, Pavilion, released the book in 2003, ten years after my husband, Michel, and I moved to the Périgord in southwest France.  My fascination with French markets and fairs is sustained by rounds of regional markets, feeding an irrepressible curiosity about seasonal ingredients.  Tthe scope of markets has expanded to northern Italy (Pisa), northern Spain (Girona),and  Greece (Athens).  Return visits to Scandinavia reveal how favorite markets and halls have evolved. Wherever I go in 2010,  notes on both common and uncommon ingredients will find their way onto the pages of vagabondgourmand.com !


  1. Daniel DUVAL says

    Bonjour Marolyn et Michel,

    Bravo pour ce site et pour les idées gourmandes qu’il propose…

    July 1st, 2006 | #

  2. Joy Lyddon says

    I will forward your website address to others.
    The photo is such a good likeness.
    Will certainly be trying some more of your recipes

    December 29th, 2006 | #

  3. Marcel says

    Hi Marolyn,

    Just a big thank you for your positive review about our website http://www.delinostrum.com. For your interest, we have expanded considerably the range of products from the fabulous Casa Gispert.

    Best wishes,

    Marcel Risqques

    June 25th, 2007 | #

  4. Richard Poupart says

    I just dipped after getting your reply for the SOAF networking – a positive drrol so early in the morning conjuring up past holidays with friends in Tuscany but, more recently, Sunday mornings taking breakfast in a little patisserie in Bagnoles de l,Orne – mouthwatewring – and being able to get a Sunday Times. Thank you – I shall dip in frequently.

    September 18th, 2007 | #

  5. spain holidays says

    Great stuff. Nice to read some well written posts. A long way between them.

    May 7th, 2009 | #

  6. marolyn says

    Claus – the vagabond is pleased to know you enjoy the posts now and then. Check back in upcoming weeks for reflections on summer fruits, and memories of my Danish grandmother. Oh, and watch for some changes.

    May 12th, 2009 | #

  7. josien dunlop says

    Hi Marolyn: what a beautiful and tastful site is this. Good that you gave us the information. Interesting facts about food also. I shall also dip in frequently. Thanks, and au revoir. Josien (from Inge’s party)

    July 23rd, 2010 | #

  8. marolyn says

    Josien – So pleased that you will be dipping in for the vagabond’s rambling adventures…more info on summer ingredients and food history, as well as visits to northern shores lie ahead before September 2010 rolls around.

    July 23rd, 2010 | #

  9. Lori Gustafson says

    Hi! Happy to find this site. Please look us up the next time you’re in Helsinki! :) Lori

    January 6th, 2011 | #

  10. marolyn says

    Lori ! So good to get your note…as you can imagine, the last month has been tumultuous and challenging. Getting back on track now, with a post on cardamom…watch this space…

    February 2nd, 2011 | #

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