I worked on a story last month for the Merrimack Valley Magazine, written by Kathleen Pierce, about culinary "hidden haunts" in the valley. One of the places that I really enjoyed was Coté's Market, on Salem Street in Lowell. The small, family owned and operated market is a lot like the little stores that my father used to frequent when I was growing up. My father was always on a first-name basis with the owner and they would typically converse in French while I stood in my Anglophone daze. Many of us are a couple of generations away from our Québec roots here in Massachusetts, so English it is, but I experienced the same something in my interactions with the father and son team of Roger and Kurt Levasseur and the rest of their team. They seem to know their customers by name and they went out of their way to make me feel comfortable.
Then there is the food.
In her article, Kathleen appropriately praises the killer baked beans that the Levasseurs make, which are quite different from those that were once called "Boston Baked". They are decidedly Québécoises. The beans are great, but really, it's about the pie; the pork pie, or la tourtière, which Coté's makes in abundance. Kurt told me that at Christmas they sell about 500 pork pies! Pork pies are something that everyone who had a Mémère knows about, but that no one else has heard of or believes you when you tell them about it. Every family makes it differently. Coté's make it their way, and it is the real thing!
Here are more shots of the market taken as Kurt showed off this place, of which he is so proud. Coté's is located at 175 Salem Street, in Lowell, Massachusetts.