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!

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