Uzes remains one of my favorite cities to wander--in the off-season. The first duchy of France, Uzes has had a long, extremely wealthy past that can be traced to the Romans. In fact, the 17th century chapel in which the remains of the dukes are buried was built upon the remains of the first century temple honoring Octavian Augustus, the first Roman emperor.
I arrived early in Uzes in order to attend mass at Cathedrale Saint-Theodorit. While I am not a Catholic, I am incurably curious, and this was no ordinary mass: there was to be a benediction of truffles involved.With pomp and pagentry, some of the finest truffles were carried to the altar. There was a large choir, and the priest made interesting parallels and invoked lessons from the life and harvest of the humble, precious tuber. Afterward, we all gathered behind the truffles to slowly make our way toward the main square where the auction of the blessed truffles was to be conducted (with proceeds to go back to the parish).
Mr. le President of the trufficulteurs du Gard waits for the blessed truffles, empty basket in hand and daughter by his side.
The auction was competing for visitors' attention with the preparation of the giant brouillade aux truffes (scrambled eggs with truffles--didn't it sound more special in French?) This involved a gigantic saucepan that was stirred simultaneously by four strong men over a bonfire. For those with higher culinary expectations, a number of Michelin-starred chefs had prepared mouth-watering menus. The rest of us just wandered from vendor to vendor, eyeing every possible culinary permutation of and/or literary treatise on the truffle.
Or you can get a little light-headed with the dense, enveloping aroma of the truffles, seek out a slightly dirty, fresh treasure (of a quite modest size given the cost), find an empty conserves jar at home, tuck the little black purchase in with five new eggs and close the lid tightly.
We'll be having our own little brouillade in a few days, once that truffle has infused the eggs, through their porous shells, with the deep dark essence of itself.