Encore Provence: New Adventures in the South of France
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In his most delightful foray into the wonders of Provençal life, Peter Mayle returns to France and puts behind him cholesterol worries, shopping by phone, California wines, and other concerns that plagued him after too much time away.
In Encore Provence, Mayle gives us a glimpse into the secrets of the truffle trade, a parfumerie lesson on the delicacies of scent, an exploration of the genetic effects of 2,000 years of foie gras, and a small-town murder mystery that reads like the best fiction. Here, too, are Mayle's latest tips on where to find the best honey, cheese, or chambre d'hìte the region has to offer. Lyric, insightful, sparkling with detail, Encore Provence brings us a land where the smell of thyme in the fields or the glory of a leisurely lunch is no less than inspiring.
clear that villages inspire highly partisan feelings. A single trivial incident can set things off. All it takes is some kind of slight, real or imagined: a snub in the boulangerie, a workman taking his time to move his truck from a blocked alleyway, the baleful stare of an old woman as you walk by – these have all been quoted to me as proof that a village is fermé, cold and unwelcoming. On the other hand, should the inhabitants be friendly, talkative and generally forthcoming, you'd better
me that buildings like this, with their massive blocks of stone and great, perfectly formed spans of vaulting, could have been constructed without the aid of modern machinery. No cranes, no hydraulic winches, no electrically powered stone-cutters – just hand and eye and an infinite amount of back-breaking labour. I couldn't help thinking of the months it took us to restore a small house, and I took my hat off to the extraordinary patience of those monks 800 years ago. They would have approved of
its Latin tag, and there was not a weed to be seen. I had the feeling that lizards would be treated as trespassers. By now, the sun was beginning to dip, and many of us were doing the same. After a long, hot afternoon, fatigue nasale had set in, and we could sniff no more. It was time to give the senses a rest before the final event of the day. * Dinner was outside, at half a dozen long tables in the garden of an old farm in the hills above the village of Mane, and the aperitifs were having a
need, the smell of good things in the air – it's a fine warm place to walk into after hours of standing around in the cold. All the finer because, during the season, there is always one particularly good truffle dish on the menu. We arrived just before twelve-thirty to find the restaurant already crowded with winter customers, people from the town and nearby villages, speaking the winter language, French. (During the summer, you're more likely to hear Dutch, German and English.) Facing the
something more lush. The refugees began to pine for conspicuous colour and ornamental vegetation. They missed their shady bowers and their flowerbeds. They wanted what they would call a proper garden – a riot of roses, great swags of wisteria to soften all that stone, trees that were noticeably taller than they were. And so, with a brave disregard for local conditions, they set about planning decorative oases among the rocky fields and terraced hillsides. The climate, the soil and the lack of