Sunday, October 5, 2008

Fruit recipes from Mirmande

On Tuesday afternoon we went to Mirmande, another medieval village perché that is almost 1,000 years old and has received many national accolades. It's a maze of narrow, twisting alleyways, and houses with ancient stonework and beautiful wooden doors. At the very top is a very pretty church, St. Foy, with amazing views of the countryside.

Mirmande is nested among orchards and has a thriving fruit industry. The office of tourism's website has a link to the recipes of one of its employees. Click on Recettes de Marinette for some authentic, handwritten Provençale fruit recipes, in French of course ;) like sorbet à la pêche, clafouti de cerises and tarte aux figues fraiches.

Mirmande is on France's official list of most beautiful villages. It has also won awards for its rooftops. At one point, there was a law exempting houses without roofs from taxes, which led to many homeowners dismantling them. After this, the price of buying a house was based on the number of roof tiles still on it!

In the thirties, an artist named André Lhote moved to Mirmande and decided to save it from ruin. He encouraged other artists to move to the village and bring it back to life with their trade. Lhote's own art became part of the cubist movement. By the seventies, Mirmande had became known for its modern but traditional terracotta tiles in beautiful colours of red, straw and pink. The inhabitants had roofs over their heads once more!

Mirmande has also gotten national recognition for its gardens and plants, which are selected for their ability to grow in dry, stony ground by a group called "Les Rocailles Botaniques” (Botanic Pebbles).

Mirmande overlooks the Rhone valley and the Massif Central. Its name has gone through many incarnations, but it originates from combining the Latin mirus, which means admirable, and mandare, which means to dominate.

As we made our way to the top, I couldn't believe that such a place existed and that the 520 or so people who live here are able to make a living in a remote medieval village. I asked Susan about it later at Les Tuillières and she said that people have artisanal lives here — some have an orchard and grow apples, others have goats and make goats' cheese. They do one thing and they do it well.

And just when I was starting to get carried away with how old and romantic things were, S and I heard two little boys playing in the streets, humming the theme to Star Wars.


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