Black truffles grow wild and are cultivated in our region of Aude in southern France. The harvest season is mid-winter. Various towns and villages host truffle markets from December to March.
On 5 January, the village of Moussoulens, a 10-minute drive from our house, presented a truffle and local products market.
It was a cold but sunny morning. We found the village square populated by local vendors of food, wine, crafts and beauty products.
A brass ensemble filled the air with festive tunes.
But the main purpose of the day was the sale of the local producers’ truffles. Here is the traditional way the market works:
The producers bring their truffles to the market.
Local expert officials examine all the truffles, ensuring their quality and provenance.
The public waits for the opening of the market, crowded against a rope, a few steps from the producers’ stations along a table.
The producers, however, look like they are having a good time on this sunny winter morning.
Officials make announcements, including the mayor of Moussoulens (the man to the right).
The anticipation mounts. We can all see the baskets and piles of the black truffles. The expert says that there are about 5 kg of truffles on this day, so that there are plenty for all. Still, the crowd pushes against the rope line.
At last, the mayor blows a whistle; the officials drop the rope; and the crowd happily pushes forward to the tables. The sales begin.
On our winter Saturday, the official had been correct: there were plenty of truffles available. We were able to walk up to the table and select a little truffle just for us. The current price of these Aude black truffles is one euro per gram. That’s more than twice the current price of silver!
Back home, Mike poached two eggs with truffle crumbs. Then he shaved more truffle on top. The warmth of the eggs and their relatively quiet flavors allowed the aroma of the black truffle to peek forward. However, we found the aroma and flavor extremely subtle. (We are spoiled: the Italian white truffles that we experienced in October had far more personality!)
These are moments when we are very happy about our life in France!