About a month ago I opened the e-newsletter that I receive monthly from the Vaucluse Tourist Board in Provence and saw that they were promoting truffle season in the area. More than saw, I actually smelled the truffles. Whether inspired by the heading about truffles or the picture of the great black fungi or a combination of the two, my brain flared up the remembered smell of truffles: pungent, earthy, dungy, musky.
Today I received the latest Vaucluse e-newsletter and among its items was information about the January truffle mass in Richerenches, a village in the Pope’s Enclave, an area of Provence 20 miles north or Orange. The mass celebrates Saint Antoine/Anthony, the patron saint of truffle hunters. The members of the Fraternal Order of the Black Diamond and of Gastronomy are naturally present in full regalia at the annual event, bringing with them their recent harvest of black diamonds, i.e. truffles, to be blessed. At mass, the smell of incense is said to be replaced by that of the truffles.
Reading about the truffle mass, however, my brain flared up the smell of neither truffles nor incense. Perhaps that’s because just before opening this month’s e-newsletter the sugary side of my brain had been flared since I’d been on the phone with a friend in Philadelphia who had spent the past four days baking Christmas cookies.