Hi, I am Mardi from Eat, live, travel, write and I am excited to be sharing a travel and food adventure on Foodie Friday!
The fêtes de Bayonne are a series of festivals in the Basque town of Bayonne, France.
There are also mini “running with the bulls” (Course des Vaches) which involves what appear to be a huge number of inebriated men gathering together in one of the town squares to try to tap the bull’s horn. They have a number of strategies to try to keep the bull running in the direction they want it to, including everyone laying down on the ground to make a corridor for the bull to run though. Not entirely surprisingly, the bulls are not interested in going where people want them to go and the whole spectacle is quite amusing…
In the summer of 2008 on our yearly jaunt to France, our stay in Biarritz coincided with the Fêtes. Not fully understanding just how HUGE this event was, we Googled excitedly to discover that one of the days we had planned to head up the coast to Bayonne, there was to be “Le Championnat du Monde d’Omlette aux Piments.” Huh? A competition for the best omlette with peppers (the famous piments doux from the Basque country). So what’s the big deal with these peppers then? I searched around the internet some more and found a great article on Suite 101 explaining what’s special about the peppers.
The pepper has been grown in the village of Esplette (in the foothills of the Pyrenées Atlantiques) since the 1500s. By the late 1700s the pepper was heavily influencing the cuisine of the area. It has even been granted an AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) by the French govermnent which means that to carry the name of Piment d’Esplette it must be grown within one of the 10 listed villages in the valley and left to sun dry for a least 15 days. (According to locals, though, 12 weeks is best.) The peppers are harvested from mid-August onwards and are hand picked and sorted and then threaded onto long strings and left to dry naturally in the sun. The pepper is used at any stage of the drying process in different ways – fresh in cooking, as a paste or dried as a powder.
All this and a world championship of omelettes too? What could be better?? Right then… What to wear when partaking in the Fêtes de Bayonne? Why red and white, of course. We thought this was some kind of joke, especially when we heard this announcement on the radio: “Come dress yourselves for the Fêtes at Casino Géant”… And there we were a couple of hours later, purchasing our “oufits” at the hypermarché:
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The day of the Omelette Championship dawned bright and sunny.
Yes, in fact, it could! We stood in the blazing sun and watched the progress:
Once back in our lovely little rental property in Biarritz, we attempted to recreate the famous omlette aux piments with a bag of freshly purchased piments d’Esplette:
Other memorable dishes we ate whilst holidaying in Biarritz included:
Basque cuisine, whilst very distinctive to its region is heavily influenced by its neighbour Spain and these “tapas” style meals are very common. We loved our stay in the Basque country and would totally recommend it to anyone. I would suggest if you are there during the fêtes, to perhaps stay outside Bayonne in one of the neighbouring seaside towns since it can get kinda crazy!
Thanks Cheapoair for having me guest post and if you liked this, head on over to Eat, live, travel, write to check out some more of my culinary and travel adventures. This Christmas I will be blogging from Paris and Dinan (Brittany) and have a whole host of exciting food-related events up my sleeve!