france-123 Bettie hired me at the Los Angeles Times and we became fast friends when we discovered our common fascination of carnies and stone babies. So there was little doubt that this was going to be a hair-brained adventure. Bettie, her boyfriend Mark and their friend Joe and I drove around in a classy Alfa Romero with a crazed look in our eyes as we sought out specialties from in the Perigord and pondered the love affairs going on between the paysannes working in industrial cheese factories and the Mrs. Robinson and Ben Braddock-characters making walnut oil by Sarlat. This trip yielded such insanity, but we saw many strange and mysterious things on our journey. Okay most of it was from our collective imaginations, but at least the food was for real. Too real, in fact, as I probably gained about four pounds when I came back from stuffing myself silly. We also probably set the bar for franglais, which is what you want for a successful road trip in France. As Mark later put it, “Time and culture move on, and we are THE FUTURE.  Franglais is super-mauvais!” Ouais, totally.

france-137Our food finds were le meilleur, as everyone was so laid back and open to whatever. Also helped that Joe is a gourmet food distributor to restaurants in the Pacific Northwest restaurant and knows everything about anything worth putting in your mouth. Here’s Bettie during our morning snack just before we arrived in Rocamadour. Joe had the awesome idea of picking up some bread, Roquefort and butter. The baguette passed my squeeze test too: squeeze with thumb and index finger.  A good baguette should make a specific crispy sound; there’s also some density to it as you press down on it. The highlight was eating it with the best Roquefort, from Carles, one of only two artisanal Roquefort companies that still make the cheese by hand.

france-135 Anyway, I’m going to have to give each epic event its own entry. We were about six days of driving: Montpellier to Rodez to Sarlat to Lyon to Paris with lots of little stops in between. I think we saw more of France than most French people but that’s probably what happens when you give Americans a car in Europe. In the meantime, admire the view we enjoyed as we had our little goûter:

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