Saturday, 5 September 2009

the 532nd edition...

There're mountains not far from here where I sit tapping at the klavier and each year on the first Thursday of September people who are normally locked away from the outside world are allowed down to the town of Thonon-les-Bains for the annual Foire de la Crete. This year was the 532nd annual fair. So they know how to do things properly.

Some of these obvious inbreds are employed in the process of preparation, cooking and serving of food to the hungry visitors that flock to Thonon each year. The roads are sealed and myriad stalls are erected and all manner of goods are offered for sale. The cuisine at this time of year is Cochonaille - I am led to understand this is anything to do with pork, particularly the offal and the blood. The food on the stalls is varied and usually always good. I have never had a problem, but sometimes when speaking to neighbours or friends; people at the occasional dinner party I might refer to the atriaux or diots vigneron and often these same people will make an impression of someone about to vomit. Not nice but sometimes humourous nonetheless.

This year I found one or two stalls selling "Hot Dogs" - the name conjures an image of a frankfurter type thin sausage in a soft elongated bun with a line of mustard or ketchup drawn along the length of the sausage from a squeezy bottle. Here nothing could be further from that image of the Chicago cop standing on a blowy street corner in the windy city with gloved hand wrapped around the hot dog while taking the change from the hot dog seller and getting some word off the street at the same time.

Here, these hot dogs are big fat bastard sausages, cooked in wine and garlic and onions and then stuffed into a hunk of pain campagne with some of the jus liberally poured over the saugage and into the bread. The resulting feed is just superb. Drinking some draught beer from a plastic cup to wash down the bread and sausage only heightens the enjoyment.

If a Hot Dog is not required then how about a diot ? This is a mountain sausage from this area and when vigneron as the one I had was, can be cooked in wine and herbs and consist of chittlings, and pork meat, and cabbage and of course all contained in edible skin. Proper food. Then afterwards a little wander around some of the tiny chalets with small groups of people gathered around and about, all sampling wines from various parts of this beautifully bountiful land.

A shopping stroll down one of the many side streets found a stall that sold knives and knuckledusters. How do the French get away with it? I love it. There was no one looking at the knives or other blades; no one seeking to buy or even steal one.

People were passing by and not even glancing at them. What would the reaction have been in Britain if such a stall was allowed in a street market. I imagine it would have been like a magnet to most youngsters. They would certainly have tried to buy one or two. I am no psychologist but I do wonder if the knife crime that is reportedly at such a high rate in the UK is not in part caused by the difficulty in getting hold of a blade. You mustn't have one so you immediately want to have one. Here they are readily available and knife crime is thought to be very low indeed.

Someone? Anyone? Got any answers to my quandary?

One stall that had several people clamouring to buy was the one stuffed to the gills with garlic...

The stall holder wasn't taking any crap from anyone. "What are you looking at? Are you going to buy some or not? Its the best rose garlic from Provence, don't just ask me what is what, get yer money out missus..." All said loudly in a smoker's rasping growl.

So having bought my string of garlic all I needed now was a decent joint of lamb and I'd cook that slowly on a deep bed of garlic cloves and heaven would enter by mouth....

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