Sunday, 18 January 2009

The Black Diamond of the Perigord



I wish these were growing in my back garden!

This is the black Truffle (Tuber Melanosporum), black diamond of the Perigord and much prized by gastronauts the world over.

Saturday is market day in my local town, Sarlat. This Saturday was a little different as it was host to the Fete Internationale de la Truffe and a veritable truffe extravaganza it has been.
This beautiful medieval town was perfumed with the heady scent of truffle. A scent like no other. If you’re asked "what does truffle smell like" there's only one answer, 'err, umm, well truffle really'. Incomparable

It was truffle everything day. Truffle liquers, cheese with truffle, truffle veloute -like a soup cappuccino with a truffle froth, truffle eggs and even truffle chocolate!

The atmosphere was thick with excitement and expectation. La Ville de Sarlat really laid it on. There were stalls ladling lashings of hot duck soup for free. Extra croutons s'il vous plait! all washed down with a glass of Bergerac rouge, gratuit.


Is this the happiest man in France? Quite possibly. See that bowl on the table, full of the black stuff , yours for a couple thousand euros.

This beautiful dog really earns his keep. There was a display area where you could watch him find buried truffles in seconds! There was a time when pigs were used to locate truffles, however it was always difficult to stop them eating their find and when a pig wants to gorge on buried treasure, well that’s a determined animal to try and stop.
These are young Oak trees with the truffle mycelia present. It will take some years but eventually you’ll have your own subterranean harvest. This is trufficulture.

10 comments:

  1. Rob,

    If there was ever a reason to go to France in the winter, this is it!

    My husband and I are sitting here coveting those truffles! The Black Perigord is our favorite.

    Thanks for sharing this! :-)

    Cameron

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  2. The chap in the pic with the handfulls of truffles was one of many vendors in the room. The scent of truffle was so incredibly strong that you could smell them some 20 yards away outside!

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  3. Are you not living the life that so many of us want to live?

    What fun that must have been, I can smell the fragrance wafting on the air.....

    Jen

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  4. I'm intrigued. I think Victory Garden (TV PBS) did a segment on this a few years ago. It's quite fascinating how the dog finds them. Please, a brief description of what they smell and taste like. You said it's indescribable but please try for us folks far, far, away from France.
    I'd like to understand the allure.

    Grace

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  5. Jen, one of the most appealing things about France is the great markets. This really was a good way to spend Saturday morning.

    Grace, I really can't describe the smell/taste. It's mushroomy, earthy but much more. If you paste this link you might have more joy.
    http://whatscookingamerica.net/Truffles/OregonTruffles.htm

    Rob

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  6. Rob, I think the allure has to do with the atmosphere surrounding truffles as well: how they are found, the infinite care which goes into preparing the food which will serve as the "stage setting" for the truffle slices, the wine, the sense of appreciation of it all. And then there is the sublime nature of the truffle itself on top of that.

    There is an Austrian chef named Sara Wiener who did a series about driving through France, and stopping and cooking with the creators of the most famous French specialties. One of her stops was in Grignan - Drome where she prepared Guinea hen filled with Perigord Truffle Farce. I will never forget that episode.

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  7. Hi Rob, re your cutting garden comment, I love clemome, but I think that I will get some small starter plants. Beautiful subject matter for photo's.

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  8. So interesting. I thought pigs were still used to find truffles, guess they are harder to train to not eat the truffles.

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  9. Rob, thank you for the lovely comments, you are very kind.

    I so look forward to reading your posts, funny, I never had such a incredible urge to go to France before I started to read your blog.

    It is on my list, maybe someday....

    Jen

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  10. This was so interesting... your picture essay and descriptive comments were marvelous.

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