Sunday, November 14, 2010

Giant Omelette Festival - The Big Day

This is my third and final post about the Giant Omelette Festival held in Abbeville LA on Saturday, November 6, and Sunday, November 7, 2010 - and on the first weekend of November every year. My two previous posts recount my drive to Abbeville on Friday, November 5, and my experience of the first day of the festival on Saturday, November 6. This post will tell about the big day of the festival, the day on which the Giant Omelette was cooked and served, Sunday, November 7.

One might wonder where the idea for a Giant Omelette Festival has come from. The story goes that the festival's origins reach back to the days of Napoleon Bonaparte. When Napoleon passed through the town of Bessieres, France, he stayed overnight at an inn where he was served an incredibly delicious omelette. Napoleon enjoyed this omelette so much that he commanded all the eggs in Bessieres to be gathered and a giant omelette to be prepared for his entire army. Thereafter, the tradition has been kept in Bessieres to cook a giant omelette at Easter and serve it to anyone in need.

There is now a Confrérie de l'Omelette, or Confraternity of the Omelette, consisting of Chevaliers, or Knights, from seven towns around the world:

Bessieres, France
Frejus, France
Malmedy, Belgium
Granby, Canada
Dunbea, New Caledonia
Pigue, Argentina
Abbeville, Louisiana, USA

Members of the Confrérie de l'Omelette from each of the seven towns send Chevaliers to the Giant Omelette Festivals of their sister towns. Each town has its Giant Omelette Festival at a different time of year.

At the Giant Omelette Festival in Abbeville this year, the Sunday festivities began with 9 a.m. Mass - La Messe de l'Omelette. The Chevaliers of the Confrérie de l'Omelette processed solemnly into St. Mary Magdalen Church, the chefs wearing tall white chef's hats. A basket of eggs was carried into the church to be blessed. Many of the prayers, readings, and hymns of the Mass were in French.

The national anthems of the various countries represented in the Confrérie were sung. This made me realize that I know very few national anthems - only those of the United States, France, and England. I feel that I should at least know the national anthems of our closest neighbors - Canada and Mexico. I'd like to learn these.

During Mass, we also prayed for those members of the Confrérie who have died. This Confrérie de l'Omelette is something special.

Early in the afternoon, the chefs and eggs paraded to the omelette preparation area in the middle of downtown Abbeville. The Tabasco girls danced. A giant skillet was ready over a wood fire in a huge sandpit. Cajun music accompanied the cracking of the eggs, the beating of the eggs, the adding of the seasonings, the pouring of the eggs and seasonings into the giant skillet, the stirring of the giant omelette in the skillet with large paddles, the adding of the Tabasco sauce.

Finally, the Giant Omelette was ready. It was served to us in bowls with a piece of French bread. Of course, it wasn't really an omelette, but more like scrambled eggs. And it was delicious!

This year's omelette was made with 5,026 eggs! Besides the initial 5000 eggs, one additional egg is included for every year of the festival in Abbeville. This year was the 26th year of Abbeville's Giant Omelette Festival. (Actually, this is a fairly small Giant Omelette, as Giant Omelettes go. The Giant Omelette in Malmedy, Belgium is made with 10,000 eggs, and the one in Pigue, Argentina with 15,000 eggs!)

Here is the recipe for Abbeville's Giant Omelette:

5000+ eggs
50 pounds of onions
75 bell peppers
4 gallons of onion tops
2 gallons of parsley
1-1/2 gallons of cooking oil
6-1/2 gallons of milk
52 pounds of butter
3 boxes of salt
2 boxes of black pepper
Crawfish tails
Tabasco pepper sauce to taste

The Giant Omelette Festival is a wonderful small town festival - not over-crowded, as festivals tend to be in and near New Orleans. I plan to go again next year, as do several of my friends who have heard my enthusiastic account!

You can read much more about Abbeville's Giant Omelette Festival at this website:

I would say that the Giant Omelette Festival is infused with a joyful, loving energy. The spirit of the festival is one of having and sharing a good time and a good omelette!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Giant Omelette Festival - Saturday, November 6

My previous post described my drive from New Orleans to Abbeville LA on Friday afternoon and evening, November 5 (yesterday), for the Giant Omelette Festival. This post will recount what I did on Saturday, November 6 (today). The main day of the festival is actually Sunday, November 7 (tomorrow), when the Giant Omelette will be cooked and served.

This morning I got up early and drove to Breaux Bridge LA for the Zydeco Breakfast at Cafe des Amis, which occurs every Saturday morning. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., and that's right when I arrived. There was, of course, a line of people, but I did get seated in a great spot. I was at a table right by the dance floor but with my back against the wall. Since the Zydeco Breakfast draws quite a crowd, if you come singly or as a party of two, you share your table with others. I sat at a table with Barb and Rich, who are a registered nurse (Barb) and a marriage and family therapist (Rich) from Texas, as well as Sue from Lafayette. We were a nice mix of people and enjoyed each other's company.

Today's musicians were Leroy Thomas and group. The music was wild, and the dancing was wild! There is dance floor (I was seated right next to it), but if the dance floor gets crowded, people just dance between the tables. There are some very enthusiastic dancers! Honestly, the floor pounds, the tables shake, and the cafe au lait in the coffee cups makes waves. It's very energizing!

Now, here's an example of one of the songs. These are the first three lines:

I can't rooster like I used to. (Pronounced "I can't roosta like I usta.")
So I need a booster. (Pronounced "So I need a boosta.")
The girl gave me Viagra.

Believe it or not, I actually danced! Rich and Barb at my table asked me if I'd like to dance, in which case I could dance with Rich. So I said I wasn't much of a dancer but I'd give it a go. Rich was very nice and did just one simple repeated step, which I could follow, though a bit stiffly. It was fun to be part of that dancing crowd!

After the Zydeco Breakfast at Cafe des Amis, I drove back to Abbeville and the Giant Omelette Festival. Several blocks in downtown Abbeville are devoted to the festival. There, booths are set up with food and with many arts and craft. There is also a music stage. I hung out downtown for the early part of the afternoon.

At 1:30 p.m., we had two egg-citing events. (No kidding - in the program for the festival, these are listed as "egg-citing events.") First, you could compete to back a tractor into an egg held in a vise at just the right height, the goal being to crack (not squash) the egg with this projection on the back of the tractor. Most people squashed the egg, but a few succeeded in cracking it. Second, you could participate in an egg toss, but it was with hard-boiled (not raw) eggs.

I ended the day with a delicious supper at Riverfront Restaurant, where you sit overlooking Bayou Vermilion. (Abbeville is in Vermilion Parish.) I had an eggplant dish.

My next post will be about the events of Sunday, November 7 (tomorrow). These will include the Blessing of the Eggs at Mass, the Procession of Eggs and Chefs, and the cooking and serving of the Giant Omelette!

Giant Omelette Festival - Getting There

Here's the beginning of my account of the Giant Omelette Festival in Abbeville LA on Saturday, November 6 (today), and Sunday, November 7 (tomorrow). In this post, I will recount my trip from New Orleans to Abbeville on Friday, November 5 (yesterday).

First, I should mention that I almost didn't go. Such a long drive by myself - and part of the drive after dark. So much to pack - the sleep apnea machine and extra pillows so as to have all the pillows I like (I like nine pillows). So much I could be doing in New Orleans, such as planning lessons and evaluating student work and cleaning house. The Giant Omelette is interesting, but would it really be worth the trip?

So I really, really almost didn't go - but then I went! And it's been marvelous!

I left New Orleans at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, November 5, right after teaching my last class of the week. I took US-90 rather than I-10, and I'm glad I did. It's much less frenetic. Actually, it's not frenetic at all on US-90.

Taking US-90 means that I went through Jeanerette. The Yellow Bowl Restaurant is in Jeanerette. I thought of this as I was approaching Jeanerette - right at supper time. I also realized that, unfortunately, the Yellow Bowl is not on US-90 but off on a back road, and that I had no idea how to find it. But then - I noticed a small sign for the Yellow Bowl with an arrow showing where to turn! I turned. This sign and a second one led me to the Yellow Bowl! Making this stop definitely meant that I would be driving the rest of the way to Abbeville well after sunset. I don't like to drive alone after dark in unfamiliar places, but this is Cajun territory, so I figured I'd be fine.

The Yellow Bowl is a family-owned and -run seafood restaurant. It's been in the same family since the 1950s and is now in the hands of third-generation owners. I ordered a very delicious crab platter.

The after-dark drive from Jeanerette to Abbeville went very smoothly. I arrived at the Best Western in Abbeville about 8:30 p.m. That may seem very long for a 3:30 p.m. departure from New Orleans, but the time period includes walking several blocks from Loyola to my car, getting out of the city in the beginnings of rush-hour traffic, and stopping for supper in Jeanerette.

This Best Western is quite nice - and extremely quiet. No one makes a peep. I found that I slept quite well last night.

My next post will recount my adventures of Saturday, November 6 (today).