For lunch I had pork chops in gravy with white beans and green beans. A Brit told me that the French are very particular about their sides – he’d serve them a plate and they’d say, “Oh, you decided to make potatoes with this. Interesting.” Or some dishes always take carrots for sides, never green beans, but other dishes vice versa. So pork chops take green beans. Check.
The restaurant had an indulgent buffet of appetizers that included pate, fois gras, salami, proscuito, marinated mushrooms, shredded carrots in sauce, potato salad… and on and on. The meal came with a carafe of red wine, dessert (I had chocolate mousse) and a cafe for 11 Euros, fixed.
This was a small town. I mean, really small, and the towns around it were smaller and all the people from all those towns came to this town to eat. The men in the cafe were laborers with dirty or painty pants, one guy with rulers and a pencil sticking out, probably a carpenter, everyone wearing boots and drinking a couple glasses of red wine with lunch. I felt at home with them, though I know I stuck out. I took pictures of my food, for gods sake, and I’m sure that doesn’t go with a pork chop.
These people are cave dwellers, and I’m not trying to be cute, they literally dwell in caves. The hills are made of chalk and people in prehistoric times dug out caves that looked out over the valley and since then they’ve been inhabited by the the laborers of the Loir with whom I ate lunch. Many people have put windows or doors at the entryway, some have built houses in front of the caves, but the structures back up into the hill and the trees above creep out onto the rooves. Many caves are used for garages, and – as you can imagine for a location that’s based on safety – some run back into the hills and join up with others to form underground passages. Legally, people can’t dig up or to either side (property lines go underground) but they can dig back, and apparently you can still see people carrying out loads of white rock.
One town was Troo, a strange little place with an enormous church and my favorite place name of the trip so far. Troo means, “hole.” I asked a Quebecoise to write down a bunch of swearwords for me today, and I was delighted to see one of them included the word, “troo.”
Also today I went on a church picture taking rampage, for some reason. My favorite was at this town called “Vieux Bourg” which I think means “old town” (I also went through a town called Villebourg, which means “town town”) where the church was from the 10th century. On my way there I was wondering what a 10th century church would look like. Would it be showy or plain? Would it be broken down? Probably not a ton of windows, but would they have added any over the centuries? Here’s what I came across:
I love this church, it’s totally adequate. There were guys who were doing some masonry work on the base, probably guys who earlier had lunch at some local town and wondered why the guy with the mohawk was taking pictures of his pork chops. They said, “Bon jour” as I walked by.