Where to find Truffle Markets in Provence
November marks the start of the black diamond season in Provence (and other parts of France). Proof that good looks are not everything the Tuber Melanosporum or black truffle looks a bit like a lump of coal that sells for 1-2000 Euros/kilogram.
Intensely pungent the ‘diamond of the kitchen’ has been a recognized as an exclusive gourmet cooking ingredient since the 18th century in France. Although, French production of the Périgord truffle has declined in the last century it remains the global leader at approximately 45% of total production. Within France, the southeast (Provence, Dauphine and Languedoc) make up 80% of that total.
As a note, the so called Burgundy truffle (Tuber Uncinatum) is not considered as high quality or strong in flavour. In summer months, it is becoming more common to market stands selling truffles. However, these are paler and less intense than their winter counterparts.
All truffles grow underground close to the roots of a ‘host’ tree. Practically intertwined, in ecological harmony where the fungus benefits from the tree’s root system for its supply of carbohydrates and the tree enjoys a larger root base from which it absorbs minerals and water. Truffle hunters need the help of four-legged friends with a keen sense of smell to find the bounty. You can read more about truffle dogs in France here.
The third Sunday in January might mean frosty temperatures. Numb feet are a minor bit of suffering that pales when compared to the winter life of a truffle farmers (rabissers) who must visit their trees daily (sometimes several times) regardless of weather conditions. It can be cold, lonely and at times dangerous work.
Yes, there are poachers!
This auspicious January day is a chance for these farmers to celebrate at the Fete de Saint Antoine or Messe des Truffes (Truffle Mass) in Richerenches in the Vaucluse. The festival has been running for over 20 years, it includes a blessing of truffles in a church ceremony and then a public auction of the truffles offered to the church by the rabissers during communion. You can read the more about this celebration and the truffle auction here.
Now for the good stuff!
The list of seasonal (November-March) truffle markets in Provence:
- Vaison la Romaine
- Saint Paul Trois Chateaux