It is Sunday morning and we are in Uzès for the 14th annual truffle fest. This is a magical place, a medieval town in the hills about half an hour from Avignon. As usually happens when we travel anywhere in the direction of Provence I have decided I want to move here immediately. We arrived yesterday to bright sunshine and a bustling Saturday market. We had a lovely lunch at a restaurant called Terroir, while the market took place all around us. The restaurant is run by Tom who is an even weirder mixture than me; half Belgian and half Swedish but speaks perfect English.
Today the truffle fest will involve watching dogs and pigs hunt truffles in the main square, a truffle-cooking competition and a lecture on how to eat them by the resident truffle expert.
Last night however it involved a dinner. This started at eight o’clock and by half past eleven we still had two courses to go. As you can imagine all the courses involved truffles.
Am I the only person in the world who finds big dinners extremely tedious? I invariably get a type of claustrophobia brought on by the feeling of being trapped there for at least another three hours. On my left was a Swiss man who went into great details about the pros and cons of various Swiss ski resorts I have never heard of (really wasted on me as I only ski under duress). To my right was my best French friend Alex, so that was good. The seating plan was curious. There were three women on the table and the host put us next to each other. The third woman was his wife who, despite being a wine-maker, doesn’t touch alcohol. If I found the evening dull, she must have been practically sleep-walking.
Truffles are supposed to inspire lust. According to the gastronome Brillat-Savarin, it is impossible to remain faithful after eating them. I mentioned this to Alex who looked around the room and said. “Not in this place.” I don’t know if it was the effect of the truffles or plain boredom but I tried to snog Rupert between courses who said: “Stop that you fool, I’m your husband.”
At 1am we stumbled upstairs to our rooms to find our children still awake. Maybe we should have dragged them down to the dinner; they wouldn’t have liked the truffles but at least the conversation would have been entertaining.
I hope it’s not truffles for breakfast.
Copyright: Helena Friith Powell 2007