Friday, 14 December 2012

Christmas tales from the Dordogne

Christmas is a time where friends and family like to gather up around the fireplace and to tell stories and tales.  

So here are two nice Dordogne tales “made in Périgord” and about Périgord.

The Saint-Médard harvestman

A rich and frugal woman had been given the right to harvest the field across from her home as much as she could, but only in a period of 24 hours.  She hired Médard, a renowned harvestman in the Dordogne region, to accomplish this physical task.  However, from the early morning she brought his meal to the man in the field, she found him to be slow and quite lazy, which infuriated her.  Médard kept reassuring the woman the harvest would be finished by night, “with God’s help”.  But the woman did not believe him and, to show her fury towards the man, she refused to prepare his last meal that night.  According to the tale, it started raining very hard, a downpour in fact, that lasted six long weeks and destroyed the harvest in the field.  Today, the saying goes: “when it rains on Saint Médard day (8 June), it will still rain forty days later”.

The legend of the truffle

A very old and starved lady who was wandering around the Dordogne region was once rescued by a very poor lumberjack who welcomed her in his home.  To show how grateful she was for his kindness, the old lady turned magically into a beautiful young wealthy lady and, using her golden magic wand, transformed a potato into a “precious black apple”.  Once the fairy disappeared like a spark through the fireplace, the lumberjack found his garden to be full of these unique-smelling and so sought-after “precious black apples”.  But they weren’t apples.  They made the man very rich as they were in fact the famous truffles from Périgord also known as “black gold” because of their high retail price.  Such is the Périgord truffles tale.

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