Pierrot’s Pig in the South of France


One of my closest friends lives in Orange, in the south of France. Each August, I spend a week or so with him and his family while I’m enroute to the Riviera for a vacation. In France, even we chomeurs (unemployed) take vacations, but that’s another story.

My friend, Herve, took over his dad’s Peugeot dealership a few years ago, but his dad and mom still maintain an apartment over the dealership.

Herve’s dad has a war buddy, Pierrot, who lives in the centre of town with his wife, daughter, grandson and pig. That’s right, a rather large, ugly pig (have you ever seen an attractive one?).

Pierrot & his truffle-sniffing friend

Pierrot & his truffle-sniffing friend

The pig’s main purpose in life is to sniff out black truffles, a rather pungent cousin to the mushroom that is an expensive and much sought-after prize that is native to this region. This pig had no shortage of awards for his talents, most of which are proudly displayed by Pierrot on the walls of the family parlor.

One of Pierrot’s other talents, and a remarkable one at that, was in the making of Marc, a potent liquer that is quite common in this region. Pierrot was reputed to make some of the finest Marc in the area, as evidenced by the frequent customers who appeared at his door, jug in hand, ready to purchase the nectar. Between selling truffles at the market and his moonshine business, Pierrot made a fairly decent living, most of it outside the purview of le fisc, France’s tax authority. This had been a proud tradition for at least the past 25 years.

I say had been, as, one recent afternoon, attracted by the pungent smell of rotting grain, Pierrot’s pig managed to get loose from his pen, and get into the mash in a big way. In the process, he became rather innebriated, and not a tad feisty. As he pranced around enjoying his buzz, the pig knocked over several metal containers, which in turn alerted Pierrot that SOMETHING was going on out back.

When Pierrot went to check, he left the gate to the yard open, and, as you might have guessed, the pig escaped to freedom. You might also begin to suspect the subsequent chain of events. Let’s suffice to say that it involved: three overturned vendor carts, several minor car accidents, a couple of bent bicycle frames, an elderly woman sent to hospital after slipping on pig droppings, and no shortage of Orangais, from police, merchants, and ordinary people chasing after the pickled pig.

Pierrot will be paying off that little foray for a bit, but what is one to do but produce more Marc and take lots of walks in the truffle fields, pig in tow…..

Jacques Legume
French-born Jacques Legume spent several decades living between the Northeastern US and various places in France. He enjoys (or is tormented by) a unique understanding of The French from an American point of view, and of Americans from a French point of view, the result of which has been a serpentine work history littered with creative exploits, including wallpaper embosser (ever wonder where they get this little ridges?) and forklift driver for touring rock bands.

Recently released from the Bercy Institute for the Sexually Insane, Legume currently lives in an illegally sublet slum welfare apartment in the Paris suburb of Antony.

Like all Frenchmen and most Tea Party members, considers himself to be an expert. About what is uncertain, but, well, he IS French, after all....

He is a member of Mons Pubis, a society dedicated to correcting the wrong committed by l'Academie Francaise for mis-genderization of the word for female genitalia, and founding member of DENSA, the largest, oldest and most unknown society in the world dedicated to intellectual mediocrity (members must fail by 98% or more the written entrance exam). He is single and has no known offspring.
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