It’s so easy to go off on a tangent when writing and researching about Perigord truffles and get caught up and even waylaid in the stories surrounding them. Actually, I find it very easy to go off on a tangent without any excuse needed. Keep me company on one of my tangents! We’re visiting Southern France …
The truffle road wends its way through the south of France, along which there are many wonderful places to stop or stay. However, the place that caught my imagination was a small Provençal village called Richerenches located in the French region of Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur. Romantically situated at the heart of Provencal Drome between lavenders, vines and truffles,
Richerenches was a former Templar city (completely enthralling ancient history – the order of the Knights of Templar was founded around 1119, with all its attendant tales and fables – colossal tangent experienced – history AND food, surely nirvana!).
Nowadays, Richerenches is perhaps more renowned for its truffles (neatly getting back on track) and a mass held annually on the third Sunday of January honouring the patron Saint of truffles, Saint Antoine.
Church of St Denis
The Brotherhood of the Knights of the Black Diamond, black hatted and cloaked in black tunics with a medallion hanging from a yellow ribbon, lead a procession up to the Church of St Denis to celebrate and bless the Perigord truffles. During mass, the congregation fills the offering baskets with truffles, fragrancing the Church. After the service, the Brotherhood of the Knights of the Black Diamond (sorry, just can’t stop saying that!) leave St Denis and head to the town square to weigh and auction the truffles. The proceeds are then donated to the parish for the Church’s upkeep. Celebrations continue at the end of this ceremony with a menu and meal devised by the Brotherhood (I had to forcibly restrain myself from repeating the whole title) showcasing their Perigord truffles. Heaven!
Gioacchino Rossini (1792–1868) called the truffle the Mozart of mushrooms. He is quoted as saying, “I have wept three times in my life. Once when my first opera failed. Once again, the first time I heard Paganini play the violin. And once when a truffled turkey fell overboard at a boating picnic.”