A Quest for “Black Diamonds” in Southwest France

Opening day at the Lalbenque truffle market in Quercy: On a cool December early afternoon, truffle sellers in their farming clothes, buyers in their city clothes and members of a Truffle Brotherhood adorned in black robes, yellow ribbons and medallions hanging from their necks all converge on the Marché des Professionnels in the town center to commence the area’s winter truffle market.

Ceremonial music blares from a marching band of trompe de chasse (hunting horns) and the atmosphere is festive as people greet each other warmly with handshakes or kisses on both cheeks. Uniformed policemen mingle with the crowds, always present due to the large amounts of cash that exchange hands here when the costly “black diamonds” are sold.

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