23 August, 2011

Dijon, Kalamata, Seville

When I first purchased Kalamata olives I had no idea that they came from the Greek town on the first finger of the Peloponnese. Now as I slip one into my mouth I remember the great time we had at the market in the town purchasing olives from a number of vendors each with their own interpretation on how the real Kalamata olive should taste.

Last week while travelling south down the Saone river we stopped at Auxonne to take the train for a few days to Dijon. Why they make mustard at Dijon I still don't know but I can tell you it has a vastly different taste as it comes out the tap at the shop where they have made it since 1747 than that purchased in a jar. The maker is Moutarde Maille who now exports their products around the world even to Australia. When I next dip into a pot of Dijon mustard to put on my roast beef or ham I will remember the two days we spent admiring the old building and architecture of the city.

We took a tour with a guide to visit the outstanding buildings of the old city. It was fascinating to admire the different styles and them walk through the door into the inner court yard and the real building. They are all well preserved either by the current owners or by the city. The main church of Notre Dame is an impressive building. Unfortunately during the revolution a single revolutionary decided the carved figures on the front of the triple doorway reflected badly against the spirit of the cause and took it upon himself to chop each image off the façade and destroy the front of the building. Day after day he took his hammer and destroyed the stone carvings. Nobody stopped him and in the end they had all disappeared. Today the façade is just a mess but a good talking point for the guides. The triple line of gargoils where spared. Each has a different face - some human while other are animal like. Impressive if viewed from just under their spouts.

On the outside of the church there is a simple carving of an owl which is supposed to be lucky. It you touch it with your left hand - the closest to your heart, your wish will be granted. It, like the other figures, has been damaged but by a modern hoodlum only a few years ago.

Unfortunately the very good museum of art was closed on the two days we where there so I did not see the tomb of Philip the Bold or John the Fearless. Why cant USA or Australian generals have similar names? Petreus the flattened.

 What of Seville? We visited the area in the '70 when we where traveling through Europe in a Combi, so every morning when I eat my toast and Seville orange marmalade I remember the oranges we picked from the trees all those years ago. What town next?

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