Some people associate August with seemingly endless afternoons on the lawn with the Chateau grounds bathed in golden light. Others will think of the last minute shopping before the start of the new school year. But for the past fourteen years nearly every citizen of the town of Agen automatically think of prunes come the end of the month – more precisely “The Big Prune Show” – http://www.grandpruneaushow.fr/
The idea of a three-day celebration of said fruit may seem akin to a combination of The Wicker Man and Carry On Matron to certain readers, but the event is an established part of the calendar. The prune has long been emblematic of the region, and in 2002 the Pruneaux d’Agen were awarded I.G.P. (Indicated Geographic Protection) status.
For those of you with a gastronomic taste more advanced than this writer, the Agen Prune is a dried Ente Plum hails and hails from the former Gascony area. The impact of two World Wars on local agriculture was such that in the 1940s the French government dispatched a team of researchers to find the best plum trees and to narrow their short-list to just six. The harvest usually commences in the third week of August, and the Festival is both a gastronomic and a musical celebration, attracting some 80,000 visitors per year.
Agen is located in a part of the country that is also associated with Armagnac, and one of the many enticing dishes of Agen is “Crumble aux Pruneaux d’Agen, Glace à Armagnac”; prune crumble with Armagnac ice cream. Of course, Chateau de Bois Giraud is a fair distance from the commune of Nouvelle-Aquitaine, but there is scope for any guest to create an interpretation of “Pruneaux d’Agen ou Vin de Bergerac et Glace Vanilla” – prunes cooked in wine with vanilla ice cream. After all, there are worse ways to end a holiday in the Loire Valley…