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.
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.
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.
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 was the show stopper … until the truffle-hunting pig arrived.
“Madame Cochon” rooted where others n’er dared to go.
She snorted and dug until every truffle was sorted out.
Surely Madame Cochon’s talent was due to the mutual admiration between she and her master. You might even call it piggy love.
Who could resist such a loveable pig?
Even the piglets-in-waiting were envious.
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.
Each truffle was carefully cleaned, weighed and sold, starting at 1000 euros per kilo.
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”
All through the day curious and truffle-hungry guests mobbed vendors who were selling truffles by weight.
Precious truffle oil, butter and cheese sold fast.
Those seeming to have the most fun were those who just showed up for the experience, the food, the company and the wine.
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!
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.
Another fun day in the South of France!