But despite the cold and seemingly endless rains, life goes on in St Denis. The market traders are a hardy sort, and can be found hawking their wares whatever the forecast.
One of the most popular stalls in St Denis market is that of the Vietnamese nem sellers. What the rest of the world knows as spring rolls, southwest France calls nem.
450 g (1 lb.) ground pork
125 g (4 oz.) chopped peeled shrimp
1 carrot, peeled and grated
250 ml (1 cup) bean sprouts
75 g (3 oz.) glass noodles (bean thread)
2 wood-ears (black tree fungus)
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp. nuoc mam (fish sauce)
1/2 tsp. each salt, pepper and sugar
oil for deep frying
rice paper wrappers for spring rolls
180 ml (3/4 cup) water
60 ml (1/4 cup) nuoc mam (fish sauce)
2 tbsp. lime juice
2 tbsp. sugar
thinly sliced red chili to taste
1. Soak the glass noodles in hot water until softened. Rinse them in cold water and cut into short lengths with scissors.
2. In another bowl, soak the wood-ears in hot water until softened. Rinse in cold water and cut into very thin slices.
3. In a bowl, thoroughly combine the first 12 ingredients to make the filling.
4. Dip a sheet of rice paper into warm water just until softened and lay it flat on your work surface. Place a line of filling near the edge facing you. Fold in the two sides and roll up into a tight roll.
5. Continue until the filling is used up.
6. Deep fry the rolls in hot oil until golden and crispy.
7. Combine the ingredients for the dipping sauce, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Serve the spring rolls hot, with the dipping sauce.
Recipe via www.theworldwidegourmet.com