About Uzes

Homage to Truffle Hunting Pigs

Saturday night I served a fancy pork terrine bought in the Loire Valley to friends who were in town for the Black Truffle Festival. That bite of pork could have been my last. I’m in love with pigs.

I’ve always had an attraction to pigs, namely Porky Pig, Piglet, Babe and Miss Piggy. However, the attraction never kept me from having more than my share of pork barbecue, pork chops, ham and bacon. Yesterday, though, I fell under the spell of a truffle hunting pig. She was awesome.

 

Truffle-hunting pig in Uzes

Truffle hunting pig in Uzes

 

Snout down finding a truffle

Snout down finding a truffle

 

Let me set the stage …

Sunday morning, under a bright sunny sky, there was a brisk Mistral wind blowing across the main plaza in Uzes, Place aux Herbes. Crowds of couples, families and singles were scurrying towards the centre of the plaza to join in on the Black Truffle Festival festivities.

Morning view of Place aux Herbes in preparation for the Truffle Festival

Morning view of Place aux Herbes in preparation for the Truffle Festival

 

In the square there was a huge tent and dozens of little food stands, each filled with vendors with their renditions of truffled delicacies. 

Merchants with truffle paraphernalia were set up to sell knives, bags, truffle shavers and more.

Truffle gadget vendor in Uzes

Truffle gadget vendor in Uzes

 

There were even tiny tree starts implanted with truffles at their roots so you could take one home. 

 

A “truffle pen” filled with dirt and small trees was set up along one side of the plaza. It had been seeded with black truffles that were free to any man, woman or child with a dog who could find them. 

 

Not one dog found a truffle, but one stole the show. Nancy McGee’s 2-pound Papillon, Jewel. 

Jewel the truffle dog

Jewel the truffle dog

 

 

 

 

Jewel was the show stopper … until the truffle-hunting pig arrived. 

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“Madame Cochon” rooted where others n’er dared to go.

 

She snorted and dug until every truffle was sorted out.

Finding a truffle

Finding a truffle

 

Surely Madame Cochon’s talent was due to the mutual admiration between she and her master. You might even call it piggy love. 

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Who could resist such a loveable pig?

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Even the piglets-in-waiting were envious. 

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Meanwhile, back at center stage, a truffle auction was starting. Truffles that had been blessed at an earlier church service were up for sale to the highest bidders to raise money for charity.

 

Blessed truffles for auction

Blessed truffles for auction

 

Each truffle was carefully cleaned, weighed and sold, starting at 1000 euros per kilo.

Truffle auction

Truffle auction

 

All was supervised by the ever-present Compagnie Bachiques — a group of wine-loving men who show up at every wine event, dressed in the colors and golden coat of arms of the Duchy of Uzes. It is their duty to spread the word about wines from the region and to proclaim:

 

“VINO NON AQUA” 

 

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All through the day curious and truffle-hungry guests mobbed vendors who were selling truffles by weight. 

Selling truffles by weight

Selling truffles by weight

 

 

Precious truffle oil, butter and cheese sold fast.

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Those seeming to have the most fun were those who just showed up for the experience, the food, the company and the wine.

 

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What truffle delight did I buy? A little block of truffle butter, cheese with truffles and a small jar of truffle pate that I’ll  have to give away — it’s made with pork! 

Barefoot Blogger "do I shop or take photos?"

Barefoot Blogger “do I shop or take photos?”

Oh yes … and dare I forget? Nancy and I polished off  a few Truffle macaroons with a nice pot of tea before she left for her drive back to Sete.

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Another fun day in the South of France!

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14 replies »

    • Too bad the festival’s in winter. You could be here. I’m loving winter in France. So friendly and quaint. Like living in the 1800’s world. No TV! Thank you my friend.

  1. You did a remarkable job of showing us the fun you had at the truffle festival. I think you are fitting in nicely as a new resident. Thanks for the great photos too. The pig and dogs were cute sniffing out truffles and I especially liked the men in hats who are responsible for keeping everyone informed about local wines. How’s the French coming? I’m a failure at mine but I hope the consulate won’t care. My appointment is Monday. I’m nervous!

    • Thank you, Sandra. You should have been here! Incidentally, one of the men I pictured with the wine group is the leader of my French discussion group in Uzes. I had to stop going, though, because one of my French lessons each week is at the same time as the group meeting. My progress is very slow with the language. I’m really trying to do better. The longer I know the teacher, the more she understands my good and bad habits. Now she’s working on short sentences. I get carried away, then I can’t think of the simplest thing to say! Short and sweet. That’s what I’m going to try now. Good luck with your appointment. They aren’t going to require you speak French — at least I never had that issue. Thank goodness!

    • Thank you so much, Joanne. I’m always concerned I might include too many photos in the posts, but I just can’t wean them out. Especially the pig photos. Isn’t she a gem? It’s my first winter here and it won’t be the last. Except for the freezing weather right now, the sun shines and there’s just enough to keep you busy. Too busy to study French! But I’m working at it. You should think about coming here this time some year. No crowds!

    • I never realised there would be so much to do here in the winter, Paula. Thought I was going to rest up for summer, but this is getting to be non-stop, too. Have I told you lately how much I love it here? Hope you’re on your way soon!

    • It was! Black truffles were a bit disappointing after the white ones in Italy, but the festival was a blast! Partying in the Place aux Herbes into the wee morning — well, not me — well, not that long! Hurry back!

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