Amanda on December 1st, 2006
Autumn Colours

Autumn Colours

It is the first week of winter and the vast oak forests of the Quercy are scarlet, golden and green, almost too beautiful to bear. In sharp contrast the vines are now completely naked and shivering in the cold winds, they’ve been severely pruned and appear as no more than dark shadows of their sexy summer selves.

The markets have shrunk to the core and the few local stallholders do a roaring trade. One of my favourites is a gentleman with a good line in patter. He woos the good Cadurciennes by addressing them as ‘jeune mademoiselle’, even when they’re pushing ninety – actually, especially when they’re pushing ninety. He juggles cabbages with breathtaking skill, a chou vert (Savoy), a chou rouge (red) and a chou fleur (cauliflower), perfections are pointed out, then all are up in the air and up for grabs. The ladies are dazzled and fumble about in their purses for the required coinage. Meanwhile he compliments their dress, admires their eyes and kisses his fingers in rapture. They giggle like a gaggle of schoolgirls and bashfully extend a modest acknowledgement, then lower their eyes and scuttle off as if they’ve just done something quite outrageous and will have to go to confession immediately to get it off their chests. It’s all thoroughly enjoyable, and unlike a fair this gentleman isn’t selling tat at exorbitant prices. It’s good wholesome stuff, grown on his own farm, all three vegetables for less than the price of a town centre café crème. If you’re a regular you don’t take part in this pantomime, you get the best, still stacked in the vast pile of crates at the back. I have been awarded this distinction now, and feel a ridiculous glow of pride as he roots out the largest cabbages, and the whitest cauliflowers, throwing in a couple of beautiful, damp leeks. He starts a soliloquy to my cherry lips – while he’s head down in the bucket of parsley – and then remembers he did that one last week. We both grin, and I head off to the café for a shot of caffeine and some semblance of normality. Read More »

Christmas 2006 in the Quercy from French Life

Amanda on February 2nd, 2006
Quercy Truffles

Quercy Truffles

Welcome to the late winter treats of the glorious Quercy. Foremost among winter indulgences in this famously gastronomic region must naturally be the truffle. Now is the time for it, the prices are a little lower in the late season, 800 euros a kilo last week, but that’s quite reasonable! If you feel the desperate urge to indulge in this edible delight, Lalbenque is the place to be. Every Tuesday afternoon at 2.30, from November to early March, the village is closed for the truffle market. It will be freezing, so dress warmly, it will be chaos, so be prepared, but it will be an experience you’ll never forget and, provided your wallet is fat enough, you should come away with a rare little nugget to reward you for your endurance.
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Winter Treats in the Quercy from French Life