Monday, April 28, 2014

A Flurry of Feasting

The first was with our friends from the Kiwanis. The evening started with a visit to a retired farmer who as a hobby decided to plant a wood and in this mixed wood he has planted the truffle oak. The tree has been inoculated with the truffle spores and you can tell if they have taken as there is a ring of bare earth around the tree. It was a lovely walk in the early evening sunshine and a really interesting insight into truffle growing. More about growing truffles here and about how you can even adopt a truffle tree here. We ended our visit with a stop at another of his hobbies - growing shitake mushrooms. In a patch of forest he has logs stacked up to house the mushrooms and apparently they grow in profusion. Someone asked him if he sold them to restaurants etc and he replied laconically that he put them in the freezer and gave them to family and neighbours - it's not all about money!

The bare earth shows the spores have taken and the ring will get bigger each year

He is training his dogs as truffle hunters and they gave us a demo

The shitake mushrooms grow on these log stacks 
The mushrooms tasted delicious
Our delightful, gentle and funny friend Jean Marc

Then off for aperos and the main feast. Jean Marc used to be the director of one of the local vineyards and as a bit of a gourmand he has kept alive an old tradition of eating the wild leeks , les baraganes, that grow amongst the vines. These days they are spoiled by pesticides but Jean Marc continues to encourage them amongst his own vines. They were gathered and cooked as part of a delicious meal.

Confréries are very active in France - brotherhoods business groups which were formed at the end of the Middle Ages as a manifestation of solidarity between equals. I suppose the Confrérie most people have heard of is the Masons. Here in the SW France at summer events you will often see members dressed in their grand robes and perhaps holding a ceremony to welcome a new member. At the Salon de Chocolat that we hold every year the Confrérie de Choclatiers invest a new member.

Jean Marc and Pierre felt that the gatherers and cookers of the baragan should have a confrérie and entertained us with a spoof ceremony, poking a little gentle fun at the ceremony of the confréries, to welcome three new members to their initial group of two. Their ceremonial robes consist of a black beret with the wild leeks attached and the new members received garlands of baragans interlaced with wild flowers. We look forward to next years ceremony and meal!

Jean Marc and Pierre the founder members
A new member  is welcomed into the group
The feasting continued with the annual Repas des Chasseurs - if you don't like meat give this one a miss! We have been regular attenders since we came here and enjoy the company and the food . It's a lot of meat and a lot of wine and a late evening so we needed a whole day to recover!

Our final feasting memory is the lovely lunch we had with friends and our daughter and her partner. The sun let us down but we were ten à table for a lovely meal cooked by Kevin with a bit of help from me and Ali -  a lovely atmosphere and a very happy easter Sunday.

A la prochaine.

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