Our village had its annual fête recently. We didn’t participate much–karaoke night and disco night aren’t our thing. But we were drawn to the cassoulet dinner.
Tables and chairs for 200-ish were set up in the shade of ancient platane trees next to the river. It was a scorching day, but between the shade and the breeze, we were comfortable. It was a bring-your-own-dishes affair, as usual. Open to anybody who bought tickets in advance, €18 per person, less for kids.
The aperitif took place as usual, same place, same routine as the earlier post. The starter was a green salad topped with duck gizzards.
Then came the cassoulet, brought in from a local caterer. One bowl served three people: a big piece of duck, two pieces of sausage and lots of couenne, or pork rind. Nobody went hungry.
One woman preferred drinking to eating, guzzling rosé straight from the pitcher. She danced on the tables, but eventually fell and was hauled home. There’s one in every crowd.
It was followed by cheese, as if that could ever be in question. Then ice cream from La Belle Aude, which is made in Carcassonne. The factory used to make milk, ice cream, yogurt and other products for name brands. But then it was bought out by a big British-German company, which closed the factory, with the loss of 123 jobs.
The workers were upset, because the new company had promised to upgrade the factory, then decided not to. The workers, with local government support, bought the factory and started turning out La Belle Aude (Beautiful Aude–Aude is the name of the department of which Carcassonne is the equivalent of county seat).