Monday, August 15, 2011

Dordogne Diary, Day 6

And so it came to pass that a day came when nothing happened. Well, nothing much. A light rain settled on the countryside in the early morning hours, and was still misting down as I rose to walk to the bathroom attached to the main building. Good thing it's there and not in the pig sty: nobody could get me out after I'd barricaded myself in.

I still hadn't been to a market and now necessity was moving Brian to go to one. Rouffignac, he assured me, was low-key enough that it wasn't overrun by tourists looking for the charming and quaint. Which turned out to be the truth: it was utterly no-nonsense, and in some ways a mirror on the market I'll go to on Tuesday once I'm back home. There were people selling saucisson sec, the French version of salame (and a couple who also had some Spanish ones, which really looked good), there was the guy with commercial fruits and vegetables that were of a far higher level than the ones in the supermarket, but were, still, commercial. And there were the little farmers with whatever had come in this week, hanging out and chatting with their regular customers. There were a couple of non-familar stands, one manned by a guy in chef's whites, selling croissants and pie-like things stuffed with ground meat, ground chicken, or pâté.

What was unusual was that the stuff I take for granted at home wasn't as prevalent: only a few people had peaches, which are either over here or haven't started, there were far fewer people selling eggplants and tomatoes (although we stopped to buy a couple of melons from some people who had tomatoes I'd never seen: utterly white! Too bad Brian won't eat raw tomato, because they were huge). We also stood in line at the local bakery to get bread, and I noted gigantic 1.5 kilo rounds (€3) that made me want to throw a dinner party.

Back home, we heated up the chef's ground-meat-and-hard-boiled-egg pastry, which certainly was weighty (and at €5 each, should have been), and tossed a salad. The pastry turned out not to be all that interesting, but his croissants were made with salted butter, and I thought they were magnificent. No wonder they sell out early, as he told us.

The rest of the day was spent figuring out my departure. Brian's wife, Melinda, and Harry the Kid had decided to stay on another day in Paris, and Brian doesn't drive, so there went my ride to the station for Monday. I debated staying on another day,, I'd already imposed on these folks enough. You can always tell when it's time, and it was time. Also, if I didn't catch the Tuesday market, I'd be unhappy: being here has somehow given me another look at the French attitude, one I can't quite articulate at the moment, and I want to see how I can make it play out on familiar ground with ingredients I know, and without having to drive out of the deep countryside to make it happen.

Eventually, Brian reached a friend in Le Bugue, and she agreed to come by and get me. We then jumped in the car and headed off to Les Eyzies to pick up a ticket I thought I'd reserved on line. The agent couldn't find it (or understand my accent), but it all got settled in the end, so now I have a train at about 2:30 which'll get me to Agen, and from there to Montpellier, getting in at 9:01 at night. I'm going to have to find a restaurant open on Monday at that hour. I do love a challenge...

The rest of the day was spent catching up on the news, lazing around listening to these guys snore...

and eventually defrosting a large chunk of phenomenal lasagne Melinda had made last week and destroying it utterly.

So tomorrow I leave, to go back to Montpellier and a little bit of work, plus the tension -- which has never really left here -- of waiting to hear that my agent's gotten a bite on my book proposal. Life as usual, but, I think, changed a bit for the better by the window into some other people's lives here, and the possibility that perhaps I might be able to do something similar some day, once my financial state improves, and on the slim chance that there might be someone out there who wants to share the adventure. Stranger things have happened, but I bring myself down to earth by reminding myself that it's about putting one foot in front of the other, and the next step begins at Les Eyzies station tomorrow afternoon and ends at my familiar slum apartment at 9 in the evening.

It's been nice, though. No getting around that.


  1. There are still saucissons secs in Montpellier? I thought I ate all of those.

  2. I have now lost all enthusiasm for my planned lunch. There's really only one place to get good charcuterie in Brooklyn – actually there are three, but they're clustered together – and I shall have to summon the verve to bike there. Your food sightings have once again inspired me!

  3. Trip sounds great!
    I have a question: an American friend of mine is in town till the end of the month and is interested in doing some kind of "wine trail". Neither of us has a car. Do you know of any way to accomplish this? Or, if not, any vineyards that can be visited by coach (gah) and that are worth it? He's off to Narbonne tomorrow and I've already sent him the link for your post last winter, as well as links to your Estivales post (we're probably going this week, early as you suggested), so you I'm hopeful you might have something to suggest as I'm totally stumped!

  4. Nope. Rent a car (but use a US website) and you have unlimited mileage. Head to various obvious places (Pic St. Loup, St. Saturnin, Terasses de Larzac) and find your wineries: the more commercial of 'em will have signs and folks to do dégustations. There is one co-op (St. Georges d'Orc) and one good winery ( you can get to within city limits.

    Join you at les Estivales on Friday?

  5. Sounds good (I know next to nothing about wine so I'm sure Doug will appreciate your knowledge - we drank a rather nice St Chinian last night). Will check with him tomorrow (Thursday) what suits him and let you know...
    Thanks for the wine trail advice - this is where British know-how would be good: the whisky trail is so much better established!

  6. One of thethings I wanted dto do when I moved here was to help organize guided tours for Americans with wine, food, and history as the themes. Americans very rarely come here, it'd be a great promotion for the region, etc etc.

    Then I saw how the various tourist offices basically did nothing to promote their areas, just fought among themselves, and *certainly* didn't want to help a goddam American, of all things, do stuff like this.


    Will contact you via e-mail.

  7. Nice to come back from Canada and have a bunch of blog articles to read from you, Ed. Also, great too see you out and about in France, even if you didn't know where you were.

  8. Actually, I eventually did figure out where I was. I'm not going to be more specific here, though, to protect my hosts' privacy.

  9. Ed, surely by now you know the region well enough that you wouldn't need to partner with the syndicats d'initiative anymore?

  10. Actually, no. I *don't* know the area quite well enough, and having an official partner would mean referrals: "Wine tours in English? Yes, this guy does them." Promotion on websites, etc.

    They have a way of draining the enthusiasm out of one. It's okay: once I sell the book I won't have time.


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