Monday, September 06, 2010

Vive les Tomates!

M. Pedebas, Tomatologue
Did you know that there's such a thing as a tomatologist? Or tomatologue in French.

I do now because I went to the 4th Festival du Tomate held in Clapiers nearby yesterday and the incredible M. Pedebas had a stand there. Incredible, because he grows 250 different varieties of tomato, many of them rare. That's a lot of tomatoes and it's hard to see quite how a tomato could vary in 250 different ways. Actually, all I'm interested in is how does it taste?

He was one of a number of participants at this year's festival. I haven't been before so I can't tell you how it's changed, but Michel Chastaing has kindly written it all up on his blog called Montpellier Villages. It seems, though, that the festival goes from strength to strength each year. This year there are more exhibitors, not just of tomatoes but also other locally produced produce such as rare varieties of grapes and other forgotten varieties of fruit.

Also represented were Slow Food, Terroir Direct which aims to connect farm producers to customers without a middle man (read voracious supermarket thieves) which is lucky because even without, their prices take your breath away; Lombritek which supplies compost by worm boxes and materials, and many others.

We arrived quite late, my TWDB and I, but the steel drum band of Villeveyrac were giving a stirring performance, its members made up of village ladies who lunch, French battleaxes with weasely faces, and what looked like a nice middle class lady from Cheam. It was quite incongruous, especially as they played Russian folk songs and other unlikely steel band pieces. They were terrific though!

There were lots of tables and benches where visitors could collect and eat the various produce on sale, and had it been lunch time, we might well have done that. As it was, it was 4.30pm and just about the end of the day.

We mooched about in the shade of the many trees that were most welcome in the park where the festival was being held. From the number of cars parked all over the place, it looked like the festival was well-attended. We did a bit of tasting of exquisite (-ly expensive) balsamic vinegar, but I didn't have the heart to start buying organic this and organic that. My bank account is still recovering from the excesses of the summer and the buying of school essentials.

Next comes the Journée des Associations when kiddies decide what delightful activities they'd like to do this year... and breathe in for yet another onslaught on one's chequebook. My youngest suggested American football... although, having checked, I'm gutted (!) to discover that the local (haha) club, les Hurricanes at Juvignac accepts kids only from the age of 14. Shame...

Maybe he'll take an interest in growing tomatoes instead...


  1. I'd love to have such an event here...I could leave Mr. Fly there all day, doing a degustation of tomatoes...
    As to prices direct from the producer...well, a few local beef producers started this some years ago, and their prices were well over supermarket level....for no better quality.
    For some reason the French think that anything they have must be wonderful beyond all price when they are selling...from packs of beef to junk on the vide grenier.

  2. It does make you wonder, Fly. Echine de porc at €20/kilo strikes me as very expensive and that's just one amongst many.
    You need a huge freezer and dedicated carnivores to justify such expenditure on meat.

    Tbe vide grenier attitude is just hilarious - 'Buy my junk, don't argue, and don't dare haggle!'

  3. TWDB?

    Forgive me (I'm just a stupid man), but I did Google it and still can't work it out....

    All the best


  4. Keith, you haven't been paying attention! :)
    It means
    Totally Wonderful Dearly Beloved.
    He sometimes gets demoted to DB when he's being awkward... ;)

  5. It's only happened once though - being demoted to DB that is, not being awkward :) lol


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