Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Chestnut Festival: Part 2

I didn't know quite what to expect from a village festival.  I supposed that there would be quaint village costumes and country dance demonstrations and lots of consuming of bad red wine and local sausages and cones of roast chestnuts we see in New York on a cold winter day.  But this is not NYC.

Not at all.  The community of Fontan, and the two Berghes, little and small are made up of their share of "chasseurs"/hunters, and this is the season for game/ "gibier."  That means especially wild boar/ "sanglier".

Now I don't feel too sorry for the wild boar, animal lover that I am, because these piggies have figured out how to adapt to being culled each year.   The females now bear at a younger age and have bigger litters then before.   If we don't watch out we will have them in our front yards everywhere down here.  They are all over the mountains, the nearby villages and even in San Tropez.  

So, the local hunters set the menu of boar stew "daube de sanglier"  and polenta for this festival.

Leaving our gite, we hiked up a small hill and were greeted by American music being selected for its universal dancing appeal,  an open bar of various wines and beers and several bonfires burning.  It was to be a sit down dinner.

But first the polenta must not get lumpy.

We are already making friends and someone gives Lanie a go at the paddle.

Then we check out the stew that has been bubbling for three days.  Robert is the go-to-guy for the meat.

Our girl on the spot, Fiorella, gives him a hand.

New pal, Christian,  never leaves the hundreds of chestnuts to be roasted.  He has hooked up a funny, brazier run with a bicycle chain attached, Rube Goldberg style.

 He scoops the hot chestnuts out with his fire-proof gloves and tests them for doneness all through the night until they are passed around to all after dessert.  But he sneaks them to us all night too, offering them like expensive chocolates whenever we approach to keep him company.

There are 180 guests, all reserved in advance for 10 euros each.  We take our seats and are served by local teenagers who have the drill down.

The meal is delicious.  There is the first course, a cheese course and after, there are plates of bars and cookies  and finally a mousse au marrons glacée".

                                                                  Some of my "girls"

 At this point though, few of us are still seated because the music calls.  We dance until the wee hours, alone and with partners, male or female, all ages.

 Everyone seems to be pleased with the American oldies until the dj puts on techno music at 1am.  That's when this dancer says her good nights.

 It has been a memorable evening and tired but grinning five of us retire to our gite.  The two youngsters, we left there, dancing the night away.  Tomorrow,  visit to Berghe superior.


  1. Carpe diem! and the Chestnut :)
    What a nice story!,
    The chestnuts photograph is beautiful!!!

  2. Ah, memories. That was beautifully summarized.