What Forces Grown Groups Do French men and women wear white plush hats shaped like giant wheels of yellowtail? Or red cloaks with jagged green collars, resembling giant strawberries? Or even a gray hat with long, squiggly white tendrils to show your love for pig intestines?
These are not the latest Parisian fashion. Instead, such stunning costumes symbolize a deep devotion to French food and produce.
Hundreds of people live in France confetti, Dedicated to local wines, liqueurs, fruits, vegetables, cheeses or regional cooked specialties. Joining one of these volunteer groups is a serious commitment. When members take office, they pledge to support local products. They often wear headgear, medallions, and long robes, whose color and cut reflect their beloved food items. Their solemn duties include marching, judging cooking contests, and awarding prizes to the best farmers, chefs, or restaurants who maintain the glory of certain edible foods. increase.
A charming town about 45 minutes from Paris, Meaux is home to the Breed Meaux Brethren. Thierry Bichenet, a retired advertising executive, is the current president of the Brotherhood. Member duties include promoting the benefits of his PDO in the European Union, which establishes standards and labeling rights for cheeses such as brie de meaux, or protected designations of origin, he said. say. “During visits to elementary schools, our role is to help the young man discover his PDO cheese,” he explains. “We encourage you to appreciate their gastronomic traditions through tastings and classes.”
Festivals are another way these groups celebrate their offerings, often in collaboration with other local brotherhoods. Hosted by the Brotherhood of Breedmaux in October 2022, ‘Brie Happy!’ One member participated. Their annual competition attracts the best breeders in the country. The work was judged by a jury of eminent experts.
Another brotherhood was born out of a yearning for beloved pastries. Olivier Carbonneau, grand his master of La Confrériedes Chevaliers du Tougnol, is a famous rugby his champion who grew up in the village of Chalabre in the south of France. As a child, he always loved crescent-shaped anise-flavored rolls. Tonyor, Carbonneau and his determined companion Chevalier eventually obtain the lost recipe from the village baker’s grandson, resurrect it, and sell it to farmers markets and We sold special products from the region at the fair. Their blue and gold outfits feature the city’s coat of arms and favorite rolls.
Most brotherhoods have a core group of one to two dozen official members. You can also count the hundreds of supporters who act as ambassadors to spread the love of their respective ingredients, including famous chefs, politicians and athletes. With around 4,500 Armagnac ‘musketeers’ around the world, La Compagnie des Mousquetères d’Armagnac, including famous members such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Stanley Tucci.
Culinary brotherhood is nothing new. During the Middle Ages, winemaking organizations sprang up, many of which were licensed by the French kings. In a time when poisoned wine ruined many royal banquets by killing guests and hosts, a trusted master organized a group of winemakers to ensure these banquets were drama-free. I made it By cultivating vines, making wine and tasting it, members ensured the purity of the drink and ensured the safety of the king and his guests. , approved the conference of goose roasters.
In 1791, during the French Revolution, a law prohibited all such brotherhoods in the name of free enterprise. It was in his mid-twentieth century that they were reborn. The development of post-war France allowed citizens to rediscover their taste for the good things in life. At the same time, growing concerns about the industrial food industry’s erosion of authentic regional flavors created a need to protect local products.
These groups were originally male-dominated organizations, but many now welcome female members. A group called La Confrérie des Taste-Sanciaux de Châtres-sur-Cher, which promotes Normandy apple-stuffed pancakes, only accepts female members who are provided with a secret recipe at the start. “The men are there to help set up and load the equipment,” said Hélène Degrigny. marquise In a 2019 interview, of the Brotherhood. “Otherwise, the kitchen will be a mess.”
Along with the convivial atmosphere of parades and feasts, the purpose of these fraternities is to preserve the products associated with a particular place, preserve ancestral recipes, and pass them on to younger generations.Researcher Nathalie Louisgrand He said decisive action by the Brotherhood could protect France’s gastronomic heritage. For example, the local French saffron was saved from oblivion by the Brotherhood of the Order of the Saffron of Gatinet. After decades of absence, the spice is growing again in France.
Dominique Vignotto is the Grand Master of the Real Knights of Camembert in Normandy. She has been a member for 10 years and her motivation remains the same. “It’s about preserving, protecting and promoting the Normandy terroir and the art of making raw milk cheese,” she says. After a lengthy legal battle, in 2021 industrial camembert her cheese can no longer be confused with raw milk camembert from the region. Because only the latter are allowed to carry the “Made in Normandy” label. “Our next goal is to add raw milk camembert to UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage,” says Vignotto.
Not all of these groups have embarked on such serious projects. While most conferries celebrate local wines, cheeses, or other edibles, some conferries serve classic French cuisine, such as giant strawberry tarts 30 feet long and 6 feet wide, or giant omelettes. Dedicated to creating and sharing a huge version of .
Confrérie Mondial des Chevaliers de l’Omelette Geante de Bessières started its ritual in 1973, giving away giant omelettes for free once a year. It is believed that this tradition is rooted in Napoleon’s love of omelets, which he once ate in the town of Bessieres.
Every Easter Monday for the past 50 years, members of this brotherhood prepare a giant omelet with 15,000 eggs, 22 pounds of salt, 4 gallons of oil, and a bucket of herbs. This tradition now extends to his six French-speaking cities around the world, including Abbeville, Louisiana.
But in Bessieres, the true meaning of the event is clear. Each year, during the festival, local children are taught how to make omelettes, ensuring that the skill is passed on to the next generation.
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