One leaves Cahors via a “devil’s bridge”, the marvellous Valentré.
An old tradition attributes to Satan any bridge that’s too marvellous to have been made by humans. Superstitions are particularly strong around the Valentré – especially with an Avignon pope involved – and many a wary peasant has declined to use it to cross the Lot. There’s talk of a Faustian bargain by the architect, a missing stone in a tower, of a sculpture of a devil placed at the point where the stone was missing…
Bugger it. I just walked across the gorgeous thing then headed up the hill.
This part of the Camino is in Quercy Blanc, White Quercy. Other parts of the region don’t look like this at all, hence the special denomination. It’s all pale grey…
The ascent from Cahors is strenous but bracing. Bit of a highlight. I was drawn to this pale, thin country without knowing why. By next morning, I’d know.
Think of the lost diamond ring under the bed, the winning ticket in the drawer full of old bills, the colour in the seam at Lightning Ridge.
The day brought me to a newly opened rural gîte called Trigodina. Not many people were staying there yet, and, to the exasperation of my host, the pilgrim office in Cahors seemed to have forgotten or overlooked its existence.
Guys, check out the family of Remy Rothan at Trigodina if you get the chance. Here’s one much loved family member:
He’s a truffle pig, more instinctive than a dog for the task of sniffing out the truffles. And here is a stunted fifteen year old truffle oak, shorter than some persons.
Nobody has weeded the area around the roots. That’s the famous “burn”, the bare ground which indicates one may have truffles growing around the roots. Without the burn, no truffles. Planting truffle oaks is a lottery. In a good year, a group of trees might yield a kilo or two of truffles, worth thousands of euros. I was there out of season, and there were only pictures of truffles…or so we thought.
Remy Rothan is a master blacksmith who had to be off to work early in the morning. But Remy can’t stop thinking about truffles, and through the night he’d found for me two small forgotten specimens that he had double sealed and left in the bottom of a large freezer. Why the double seal? Because the perfume of these truffles of White Quercy is so penetrating, even in a frozen state.
We opened the jar…
I’ve smelled and tasted them in terrines and flavoured oils. The slightly rank character was absent from these fresh truffles: there was that earth quality, as a bass note, then just the sheer perfume!
We sealed the jar again quickly.
I trudged off that morning into Quercy Blanc, still intoxicated by its black rubies.