I talked to the goatherd for a while. I said his was quite a different sort of job and he said different from what? Well, you know, I said, from what most people do. I asked him if he spent all his time in the hills and whether he lived nearby in a cabane, (a traditional stone cabin you see scattered throughout the hills) he said he did and gestured to somewhere ahead. He asked me where I was from and made some quip about the rain in England. He told me that the big dog was there to guard the goats from wolves, I asked him where the wolves were, and he said up in the mountains where they spend the summer and he told me the little dogs were there to herd the goats. Actually, they hadn't done such a great job, because later we came across a goat on its own, looking rather lost.
|Dogs with Goats in background|
Traditionally, on Christmas Eve families get together and eat Le gros souper, the big supper before going to Church. There is much symbolism attached to the this meal; it begins with seven different meatless dishes which relate to the seven sorrows of the Virgin Mary and finishes with les treizes desserts, the thirteen desserts relating to Jesus and his twelve Apostles. The dishes are laid on three white table cloths (one on top of the other) between three candle sticks with white candles, symbolizing the Holy Trinity and hope. I'm not sure how much of the traditions are adhered to, but it does seem that a lot of oysters and seafood are eaten on Christmas Eve and there are booths everywhere selling oysters by the dozen on the side of the road. That was a tradition I did manage to partake in and jolly good they were too!
- Soupe de Poisson – Fish Soup
- Escargots – these can be bought prepared from your Butcher and heated up in the oven.
- Cardoon and anchovy gratin
- Salt Cod with a tomato and wine sauce – Morue en Raito
- Green Salad with garlic croutons
- Cheese, including Goats cheese
- Dried figs, almonds, walnuts and raisins, dates, these are known as les Mendiants
- Two types of Nougat, one dark made with honey and almonds, one white from Montelimar
- Oranges, tangerines, pears, apples, grapes. The fruit varies and sometimes quince or grape jelly substitute some of the fresh fruits.
- La Pompe a L’huile – a type of Fougasse (a pastry usually savoury with olives or bacon) made with olive oil, orange flower water and brown sugar. Can be bought at your Boulangerie.