…if it’s well and slowly cooked. Here’s my own version – it’s now winter in Oz – of the plat national I was served in Monistrol d’Allier, day two. (I didn’t use the famous lentils of Le Puy, but I’m not sure our Auvergnat hosts used them either.) As you walk the Camino in France, you may be offered the local specialty several times in a row: lentils for the first days in the Auvergne; then l’aligot, the renowned cheesy mashed spud of the Aubrac; later comes confit de canard; after that, la garbure. And so on. Personally, I’m up for multiples of these things, but some pilgrims complain of the repetition. What’s interesting is the expression national to describe an influence or style confined to a few towns and the surrounding land. France is all about variation and regions; and the Camino, even for a slow walker, is a quick succession of pays. This broken tower and the chapel below it are typical of the volcanic land that yields a special building stone (just as it yields unique lentils which have an AOC and an official confraternity).
From this tower one descends – and descends! – to the village of Monistrol d’Allier. Even with its long established hydro scheme on the Allier River, the town has a small and shrinking population. One reason things stay quaint in these parts is permanent economic depression.