Sunday, September 6, 2015
A Mill in Brittany: Moulin de Trémillec
pays bigouden, Moulin de Trémillec is one of the surviving ones. René Bilien, who operates it with his son André, has been a miller since age 15. He was actually born in another mill, near Pont-L'Abbé. His grandpa bought Trémillec in 1932 and operated it with his own son, also called René, the current René's Dad, now defunct.
The mill dates back to the 1600s. Originally there was only one building, half mill, half living area. Now the miller lives next door. "Our house is new," says Monsieur Bilien. A plaque above the front door to the adjacent home indicates it was indeed built in 1837, a mere 178 years ago...
In the old days the mill was all one-level. Grandfather Bilien added an upper floor in 1932-1933. The present René Bilien added the attic in 1950.
He also explains that the buckwheat is milled in seven separate steps in order to separate the kernel from the hull as gently as possible. He describes the various stages but there is no way I can take notes fast enough to remember each of them. So you'll have to take my word for it: yes, it is a complex endeavor but it is also beautiful like a choreography lovingly retained through the ages. We taste the flour which tastes a bit like chestnut flour. We buy a couple of bags.