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The Forager

(by Liv Woudstra)

The fact that my mother ended up with a truffle-hunting dog and I ended up in a truffle importing business should have been an easy prediction. When I was growing up in the south of France, my mom was something of a forager, often seeking out wild mushrooms on walks through the woods around our village near Avignon. Now she has a compelling reason: I sell what she finds.

There’s a bit of a misconception about the way French people eat, and about French women in particular, at least in my experience. It’s not about spending long hours at the stove making elaborate sauces, and it’s not about portion control or calories. My mother, Annie, is slim, but with a healthy appetite. We’re all big eaters in my family—it’s just that the emphasis always has been on the best products, fresh and local if possible, so that the food is deeply satisfying. An insipid loaf of bread would be turned into bird feed, but the crackle of the crust on a properly baked baguette is the musical score of my childhood.

My mom is now a vegetarian, but she was always passionate about organic food, long before it was popular and accessible in France’s “bio<