Being not quite 'truffled out,' I decided to make the short drive to Limogne yesterday morning for its last truffle market of the season. I thought that at this smaller market I might learn more about the actual buying and selling of these intriguing lumps of black flavor. This market was, indeed, much smaller. Perhaps 10 sellers and maybe 20-30 buyers gathered in the open area in front of the church. Buyers appeared to be more local here. The sign above reminded everyone that truffle transactions were not to begin before the whistle blew at 10:30am.
I was able to pick up and sniff a truffle. I wish I had a more educated nose to explain the aroma. To me, it was a melange of rich soil, horse manure and musky mushrooms with a lingering, slightly sweet smell. Not unpleasant, but not exactly a mouth-watering fragrance either...at least not for me!
The best part of this truffle experience was getting to meet a fellow blogger, Vanessa, from Life on La Lune. We chatted about our common and not-so-in-common experiences living in France while we watched the market unfold. We both noticed that one of the sellers had a notable lack of customers. As luck would have it, a very nice French woman began a conversation with Vanessa in French. She explained that she was a truffle grower herself and usually sells here and at Lalbenque. She wasn't selling this morning as she was using her last truffles to 're-seed' her truffiere. She reported that this past growing season was excellent for her producing 9 kilos of truffles as opposed to her normal 1 kilo yield. She even explained why the man we noticed had no lookers or buyers. His price was too high! He was asking 450 euros/kilo for his crop. She said if he had lowered his price to 400 euros, he would have been competitive. As it was, he gathered up all his unsold truffles in their dish towel and took them home.
This man must have priced his little basket of truffles just right...he sold all of them!
If you are interested in more about truffles, try this link to an NPR story from 2008 about the Lalbenque market or this more recent one about truffles in America.