Friday, August 12, 2011

Great food and a conspiracy theory

Sometimes the best meal you eat is somewhere or something totally unexpected. When we were staying in the Carcassonne region, our hosts suggested that we might like to venture to a little village called Rennes-le-Chateau. It had a contentious history in more recent times with the discovery of a possible conspiracy theory, suggesting blackmail of the Catholic Church and the possibility of a descendant of Jesus - the real Da Vinci Code!!
So we drove to this tiny little village on the edge of the Pyrenees, not really sure what to expect but open to any suggestion that this may be real. It was an uncharacteristically cold day and as we climbed higher into the mountains it became colder and windier. Neither of us had brought a jumper so by the time we started wandering around the streets of the village looking for the church we were starting to get really cold.
What better way to warm us up then a good meal and a decent cup of coffee. In Rennes-le-Chateau there are only 2 restaurants - the first looked dark and cold but the second - Amarante- looked warm and inviting. The daily menu included a hearty soup and duck confit, both of which sounded perfect on a cold windy day. My soup was excellent and my husband commented that his duck was the best he had eaten on the entire holiday. That was quite a statement as he had eaten so many ducks that I was half expecting him to lay an egg!! The house wines were also good but then again what house wine isn't good throughout France. However, the highlight for me was dessert. I wasn't going to order anything until I saw it being served to the table next to us. Chocolate fondant! It was so yummy that I wanted more - I actually scraped out the bowl and if it hadn't been hot, I probably would have licked it as well. Compliments to the chef.
Anyway, onto the conspiracy of Rennes -le-Chateau. The church had fallen into disrepair by 19 century but suddenly priest Father Berenger Sauniere had at his disposal funds to totally renovate the church. An investigation was conducted into how he suddenly had funds to not only renovate the church but build a large villa for himself as well. The investigation centred on documents that he is alleged to have found hidden in his church, and his alleged wealth. There has been a BBC documentary and  a novel "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail" explaining possible scenarios and, of course, the Da Vinci Code. Sauniere was temporarily suspended with reinstatement on the condition that the "misappropriated goods" be returned to their rightful owner. Of course, he was unable to do this so lived the rest of his life in poverty.

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