In every big city in the US where we lived, each year there would be a big food festival always called “Taste of…” and then you could fill in Chicago, LA, Philadelphia, Atlanta, etc. Typically restaurateurs, sometimes hundreds of them, would gather for a weekend to dispense small plates of their best creations to entice you to come for a full meal at their establishments. After 25 years I still remember the remarkable taste of a Margarita made with only fresh ingredients instead of reconstituted sweet and sour mix. That simple recipe has long been a mainstay on our bar. At the end of September for the last eight years the French government has encouraged communities across the country to celebrate all the aspects of gastronomy including the people and their knowledge that make this possible. Last weekend Carcassonne was one of the thousands of communities to participate in the nationwide Fête de la Gastronomie.
In the center of town is the big, open square called Place Carnot where 3 days each week farmers and other local vendors at the outdoor market sell their fresh fruits and vegetables, olives, jams, honey, sausages, and breads. It was an apt location for this food festival that last year drew 3 million visitors to nearly 12,000 events all over France. This year’s theme was “Taste, in all its senses” to highlight how important our own 5 senses are to the enjoyment of food. The festivities included picnics, banquets, tastings, and demonstrations. Chefs from local restaurants were on hand to prepare simple but tasty selections from their menus. Although pastry workshops were featured while we were there, I think I’ll leave those creations to the experts.
In the same spot where the day before we had shopped for melons and peppers, we now found artful displays created by caterers, fruit sellers, butchers, and bakers. There were wild mushrooms, crepes, olive oil, and charcuterie. We saw bottles of red, white, and rosé wine in addition to coffee beans roasted nearby.
This was the 3rd year that we’ve attended the Fête and we always look forward to visiting some of the vendors that we see only each September at this event. We always buy olives, and oil, natural and flavored too from the Fonte family at Le Moulin de Fabi. Mom and daughter were there again last weekend to make sure our kitchen stayed well stocked.
The government website dedicated to this Fête talks about the importance of a healthful diet using seasonal, local products. It goes on to promote the role of farmers, vine growers, restaurateurs, and chefs who strive to create “a unique experience for their customers.” Living the quality of life that we have in Carcassonne, we definitely feel unique.
The government website for the Fête: https://www.economie.gouv.fr/fete-gastronomie/accueil
Le Moulin de Fabi FB page: https://fr-fr.facebook.com/pages/category/Specialty-Grocery-Store/Le-Moulin-de-Fabi-671751382946829/