Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Culinary Delights on Bastille Day

Many people believe, mostly with considerable justification, that France is a country of outstanding gastronomy. A country of taste and elegance in all matters gourmandaise.

I think I should share a secret. They like to eat rubbish over there, too.

Bastille Day 2009. The grand final of the competition to find the best Bagad (bagpipe band). Lunch was served in high style.Ha! Sausage and chips slathered with ketchup and delicately served in a plastic punnet. You think that's downmarket?Yep. A chip buttie, Breton style. And yes, I did smother it in ketchup. Disgustingly yummy.

I didn't really mean to get into writing more stuff about France, but I'm at home and in front of the computer...

The Bagad thing was a novel experience. We've always really enjoyed the parade through town by the massed Bagads, but that doesn't happen any more. Watching the finalists each perform their version of the same piece in succession doesn't have the same appeal; file under "Glad we did it, because it was new. Probably won't do it again."When the heavens decided to rain on the skirling pipes, we decided to make a hasty exit. Back at the ranch we dined in a more elevated style on a salade de gésiers, knocked up in three seconds flat by yours truly (look - I'm rubbish at almost everything else, so I'll boast about my cooking, alright?)For the uninitiated (and Dorothy in particular who blanches beautifully at some of my food choices), gésiers is gizzards: the second stomach of, in this case, chickens. The more upmarket version is duck's gizzards - but they're twice the price and the taste ain't that much different. The offal is mixed with finely chopped tomatoes and flash fried with honey and balsamic vinegar. Yum yum yum.

Early evening meal done with and 'twas off on the traditional trip to Mael Carhaix for the night time revels. Every year the revels include, amongst other things, a shot put competition involving burly (and not-so-burly) local lads attempting to impress the burly (and not so burly) local lasses.The revels also include live music and dancing in the car park (at the back, by the rubbish bins - glamorous, eh?)

Some of us preferred to maintain dignity by staying put in our deckchairs and hand-jiving.And then there's that terrific Breton cuisine again. Traditionally blackened barbecued Merguez sausage served cold in a slightly stale baguette with floppy chips in the, by now, familiar plastic punnet and swimming in ketchup.The evening is topped off with a terrific firework display, which is why we're happy to sit outside in the cold for a couple of hours watching amateur shot-putting and scratch-team tug o'war competitions. The fireworks are truly magnificent; Dong managed to capture their majesty with his stunning camera work.I think we might call in Bern the Lens next time.

Know what? I love Bastille Day.

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