Sunday, August 05, 2012

Le diable est descendu en Gascogne

Cadignan fête

When it’s fiesta time in l’Arm-a–gna-ac
Then I long to be back in old Gascony

I arrived in France two years ago at the time of the annual village fêtes, so I’m already up to number three. Last year we hit the Courrensan event which introduced me to that culinary bat out of hell known as the demoiselle de canard which looks like a large bat scorched by infernal flames flapped its last flap before landing on my dinner plate. Imagine if you will, sitting down to a plateful of grilled baseball gloves, each with about enough edible flesh to hide under a well-manicured nail.

This year we opted for the event held by Courrensan’s sister commune, Cadignan which advertised a “Repas Traditionnel de Battage”. Now this doesn’t mean a traditional meal of bats, battage referring to (the time of) threshing which would imply this is a post-harvest event but it’s a bit too early even for a harvest feast, so colour me confused.

Something we’re not confused about is that the food generally comes much later than the scheduled seating. If you want everyone dancing into the wee hours then it’s a good idea to delay the fuel or else you’ll have a tent full of peasants nodding off from too much floc and rosé.My special friends

I found myself surrounded at the table by three hungry Munsoneers who needed entertainment to get them through the long wait till the Potage Henry IV arrived. This soup has a simple recipe, Part One is chicken broth, Part Two is tapioca pearls. That made me think the soup is named after the English Henry IV (1367-1413) rather than Henry IV of France (1553-1610) whose enonymous soup is supposed to have big chunks of beef and chicken floating around in it.

I’m not going to point any fingers as to who started the face-pulling event, let’s just say that my end of the table was a fertile ground for silliness and it seemed to spill over onto the next table.

chicken   dance Zelie dance!
The main meal was chicken and chicken loaf laced with carrots and cornichons. The chicken loaf is poule farcie which one may innocently translate as comedy roast. After being completely filled to the gills with that, a second chicken serving arrived about forty-five minutes of the first.

In the interim we had a lot of excited jiggling about at the table to shake down the first servings while the band performed Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps and Besame Mucho. At times a frisson of saxophone or accordion solo would suggest something of The Devil went down to Gascony, while the chord sequence from another song would have me mouthing words to a Beach Boys song rather than whatever ballad its crooner had in mind.

I bowed out before the dessert courses and dance-floor threshing began. I’ve an ambitious schedule for tomorrow and a lonely malamute at home.
midnight marquee

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