Frédéric de Villamil, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
A Daring Gastronomic Adventure!
For almost 50 Years, on the 3rd Friday of October, the city of Limoges has come alive, attracting thousands of people to experience “La Frairie du Petit Ventres”; a food festival that celebrates some of the region’s most traditional (and sometimes quirky) dishes.
The tradition can be dated even further back, though, to the 12th century. October was traditionally the month when a seasonal ban on tripe products was lifted after the hot summer months. Therefore, for the butchers, it became a cause for celebration when they could get back to selling all of their favourite wares!
Nowadays, proud and friendly traders set up their stalls all along the famous Rue du Boucherie (Butcher’s Street) to showcase their often unusual dishes and ingredients and will be excited to give you a cooking lesson or two while they sizzle away at their open grills. We think that you’ll especially love this food fair if you are an adventurous foodie, and since it is a festival primarily of butchers, it’s recommended chiefly for meat-eaters!
Many of the dishes are made with offal and tripe, or rare cuts of meat and most are lovingly prepared only once a year, especially for this festival. You may spot locals stocking up on these unusual dishes knowing they’ll have to wait another year to enjoy them again!
Among the stalls, one speciality you’ll find is “Girot,” which consists of a beef bladder filled with lambs’ blood and cooked in broth. It forms a large sausage that gets cut into slices, ready to be glazed with vinegar and parsley. It sounds a little gruesome, but if you are daring, give it a try, you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
Another of the delicacies famous at the festival is the “Fraise de Veau” or “Veal Strawberry”, which has nothing to do with the fruit but was instead named after the fashionable neck collars that nobles wore in the 16th century. Veal Strawberry is part of the calf’s intestine and is normally sold pre-cooked so it can be enjoyed hot or cold. In Limoges, you will often find it served with salad, drizzled with a vinaigrette or cooked with a creamy parsley and garlic sauce and served with velvety mashed potato.
And finally, for the extremely brave, there to try are “Amourettes”; sheep testicles cooked in parsley, port and garlic or the “Nez d’amor”; an elaborate dish made up of pork snout stuffed with pork tongue and vegetables.
If you are unsure about sampling the more unusual dishes, there are lots of other less intimidating foods to try. You’ll find succulent Limoges beef burgers in fluffy brioche buns or “Grillon”; a gloriously rich pork paté seasoned with pepper, garlic, and parsley served in “Galetou,” which are delicious savoury buckwheat pancakes.
You won’t miss out if you have a sweet tooth; there are all the usual tempting home-baked treats and cakes like traditional “Flognarde” apple tarts, “Clafoutis” cherry pies, and scrumptious chestnut puddings to savour too.
Clafoutis photo created by dashu83 www.freepik.com
Whether you are a daring gourmet or not, we think you’ll love soaking up the street-party-like atmosphere of this ancient food festival!