Saturday, March 11, 2017

Confréries – The Brother and Sisterhoods that Promote and Defend the Foods and Wines of France.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman

The escutcheon of the Confrérie de Saint-Etienne d’Alsace.
Confréries – Brother and Sisterhoods.
The newer French confréries, brotherhoods and sisterhoods, those established in the last 100 years, along with a few more ancient are dedicated to the promotion and enjoyment of food and wine.  France once had hundreds of confréries with ancient religious or secret craft backgrounds; a few of those are still around and often still limited to men only; shades of the Da Vinci Code.  However, confréries that do not concern themselves with food and wine do not interest me and are so they are left out of this post.
The devotions of food and wine confréries.
 In France there are hundreds of food and wine confréries that devote themselves to wines, brandies, liquors, cheeses, cakes, garlic, blood sausages, cattle, sardines, snails, fruits, and vegetables, etc.. All these confréries are determined to promote, enhance and protect their chosen object of devotion. 
Confrérie de l'Ail Rose de Lautrec
The confrérie of the pink garlic of Lautrec
Photograph courtesy of Lautrec Tourisme
Many also use their organizations for charitable events; despite that, however sincere they are they mostly fun and marketing organizations. There can be great enjoyment in organizing a parade to march through the town with all the members in would be ancient costumes, including clogs and floppy hats. Confréries may take to the streets to defend the original Tarte Tatin, the local crop of asparagus or an already famous wine;  that publicizes the product and keeps it in the public eye.  Confréries also creates friends, and in France, quite a number of confréries have done wonders for the economy and social framework of small towns and villages.
Confrerie de l'Andouille de Guemene-sur-Scorff
The andouille is one of France's famous sausages.
Some confréries have choirs, and others have literary and artistic pretensions.  Not all are in France, and so you will find confréries in Belgium, Switzerland and elsewhere. In a few cases, like the Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, they are international with members in many countries.

Here is a short introduction to seven of France’s many hundreds of food and wine Confréries:

Confrérie de la Cagouille:

Confrérie de la Cagouille - The Brother and Sisterhood of the Petit Gris Snail. The petit gris snail is the smaller of the two snails that may be on your menu; the other is the Burgundy snail. If you are visiting the departments of Charente-Maritime, then consider their annual celebration of this snail on the fourth Sunday in August.  The Fête de la Cagouille et des Traditions, the Feast of the Petit-Gris snail and traditions, is held in the small town of Saint Sauveur d'Aunis in the department of Charente-Maritime in the new super region of Nouvelle Aquitaine. You may check the exact dates with the French Government Tourist Office before leaving home or look with Google or Bing translate at their French language website below. Everyone has a good time eating and cooking snails and as they say in their invitations: the opportunity to enjoy the harmony of flavors and the culinary combinations offered by a good dish of the local snails”. You may also register for their annual lunch on the internet, but during the lunch be ready for long speeches in French.
The French-language website of the Confrérie de la Cagouille:

La Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs

La Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs - This Confrérie, mostly just known as La Chaîne, is an international gastronomic society. It is based in Paris and devoted to promoting fine dining along with the camaraderie and pleasures of the table.  La Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs is not, as some seem to believe an award to a great restaurant. The Chaîne was built upon the traditions of a historic confrérie and was re-created in 1950 by five early twentieth-century foodies including that French Prince of Gourmets, author and food critic Curnonsky.  Today La Chaîne still brings together professionals and non-professionals from the world of fine cuisine and has many thousands of members. 

For their International list of La Chaîne websites use these links:

Or visit website of La Chaîne International and French headquarters:

Confrerie des Amis du Brie de Meaux,
the brotherhood of the friends of the Brie de Meaux, visiting the Coulommiers fair. Checking on the competition?

Confrérie de la Truffe de Bou rgogne

Confrérie de la Truffe de Bourgogne - The Brother and Sisterhood of the Burgundy truffle. This Confrérie was organized to market and defend the Burgundy truffle.  They know their major competitor is the more famous and more expensive truffle, the Black Diamond, the Périgord truffle.  To show that they are politically correct this confrérie vows to harvest truffles solely with the help of specially trained dogs; no pigs are digging with this group!  Do not worry; tradition lives on; the truffle pigs are not on the dole or being turned into hams; the truffle of Périgord has its own confrérie, and they permit the use of pigs. 

The English language website of the Truffle of Burgundy:

Photograph courtesy of Zevillage

Confrérie des Chevaliers du Goûte Boudin

Confrérie des Chevaliers du Goûte Boudin The Brotherhood of Knights of the Black Pudding Sausage.  These knights and their confrérie are based in the town of Mortagne-au-Perche in Normandy. They organize, in the town, an annual black pudding (in French a boudin noir) competition every spring.  Its Knights, upon acceptance into the confrérie, must swear by the grill and the long pronged fork that they will eat at least one black pudding sausage every week and woe to those who do not keep the faith. Over 100 teams from around the world arrive annually and compete for the tastiest black pudding sausage in the world.

Their French language website:

The Confrérie des Chevaliers du Goûte Boudin
organizes the annual fair organized where black puddings are made and sold.

Confrérie des Chevaliers du Taste-Vin

Confrérie des Chevaliers du Taste-Vin  – The Brotherhood and Sisterhood of the Knights of the Tastevin. The tastevin is the silver cup that many sommeliers, the very knowledgeable wine waiters, wear on a chain around their neck. The Confrérie des Chevaliers owns the Château of the Clos de Vougeot in Burgundy, which has been its headquarters since 1935. The Confrérie des Chevaliers du Taste-Vin with much ceremony offers fine food and plenty of wine at their monthly meetings that promote Bourgogne (Burgundy) wines; it is here that the wines of Burgundy are tasted and honored.  The Confrérie also awards prizes for art honoring Burgundy and has annual charitable events. Despite its prizes and charities its grand celebrations, the promotion of the great wines of the Bourgogne, and keeping the sommeliers of France informed and happy are its real raison d’être.

The Confrérie des Chevaliers du Taste-Vin English language website:

A variety of tastevins on show in
the Hospice in Beaune.
Confrérie des Lichonneux de Tarte Tatin:
Confrérie des Lichonneux de Tarte Tatin The Brotherhood and Sisterhood of the Tasters of the real Tarte Tatin. These are valiant gourmets; they take upon their shoulders the responsibility to protect the genuine Tarte Tatin from inedible and cheap imitations. They do this while wearing blue smocks, red scarves, black hats, and clogs. More power to them.

Like other French language websites, the Confrérie des Lichonneux website is easily understood with the free Bing and Google apps.

A perfect Tarte-Tatin

Confrérie Mondiale De L'Omelette Géante De Malmédy-
Confrérie Mondiale De L'Omelette Géante De Malmédy - The worldwide Brotherhood and Sisterhood of the Giant Omelet of Malmédy.  This Belgium confrérie began with French members and now has associated brotherhoods in the USA, Canada, and France. It has taken upon itself a large and necessary task to cook a giant omelet of at least 10,000 eggs in a pan that is 4 meters (13 feet) in diameter for thousands of people every August 14th and 15th in Malmédy, Belgium. Well, someone has to do it! The Belgians who make over 600 different beers naturally handle well a job like this.
The Confrérie Mondiale De L'Omelette Géante De Malmédy French language website:

Making the l'Omelette Géante de Malmedy

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Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2017.
For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

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