I tell of beef, not beer, hahaha
Cheese, potatoes, now meat. You may have noticed that the area is green a almost unspoiled; on the fields and meadows is cattle which gives meat among the best of the world, specially if the farms are run according to biological agriculture.
I tell here about cattle: the cows are from the race Salers (which originates from the Salers village area, in the Cantal department south west of here). The cows look pretty nice in their red-brown slightly curled fur, and wearing proudly their long horns. Well not too lyrical! These are cows, but I like them, (no, no, not only in my plate), and the traditional agriculture leaving the cattle as much as possible outside, giving only grass for food, leaving the calves feeding on their mother’s milk, just produces wonderful juicy meat.
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Guess what this is ? it is a “carcan”, a device where you tie the ox inside, put flat ropes under its belly and pull it up, so it cannot move to much, or escape ; once pulled up and blocked with the rack and pinion system, the blacksmith can begin to work and fit new shoes to the ox. This device existed in all villages and some are still there even for decoration.
Around the 15th of August you can enjoy the kermes in Craponne. lots of amusement rides are installed in the village and many people enjoy! If the weather is fine, it is fun to stay there late at night and the kids of course never think of going home. . . It is not my thing but the kids like it. . . . This kermes lasts for one week and if you arrive by car be prepared to go on some detours or you may be stuck in traffic jams you never expect to find in a little village.
Craponne is located in the middle of a traditional cattle farming area and the meat here is very well known; there are a lot of butcheries in this small city of 2700 inhabitants and there were much more fifty years ago. There is even a butchery blind street here (picture2). Some (now closed) butcheries are even artistically decorated and one can see the dedication of the local farmers and butchers to their production. This butchery (picture3) has inside fine tile work and sculptures; unfortunately it is generally closed. Picture 4 is a montage showing an old closed butchery and a modern one, a sign, indicating where this famous one is in a small street, and sculptures in front of a butchery. Another butchery on picture 5
Grated potato pancake is produced in almost all areas where potatoes are cultivated, but here, ther is a brotherhood for this meal, not as noble as for world class wines or other noble products, but I like this idea!
Well, at the potato festival you can eat a lot, different varieties (depending on the potato variety, the amount of eggs you put with, the size of the rasp for grating the potatoes, etc. . . ) depending if you eat them alone or with meat, sweet (yes, it’s good!), or another way.
The pictures display the cooking area for simple pancakes at the entrance of the Trifola fair; mmmmh!
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I tell you about specific agricultural products of the area. Garlic, (picture 1) is produced on the Craponne Plateau since ever and this is not “plastic” garlic; it is strong, very flavoured and tasty; it comes in lots of local recipes and local people even eat it raw, with just a piece of bread, mmmmh.
Cheese of course is a Auvergne speciality and you have on picture 2 a tomme, a cow milk cheese, matured during one year with artisons (Acarus siro) (Flour mite) a sub-microscopical arachnid which eats the cheese and forms the crust of the cheese; the cheese is brushed and washed before being sold. Some of these cheeses are wonderful, have a strong earth taste, and, sorry if they do not comply with the European or US hygienic rules, I prefer these ones rather than the tasteless “plastic cheeses”. (More on cheeses on my Ambert page)
Hypocras (picture 3) is not produced here but comes from the Velay area or other Occitania areas. This is an aperitive beverage which exists since the middle age and consists of wine where spices, sugar and other ingredients are added; there are as many recipes as producers; it is generally strong in alcohol and I do not advice to drink in Craponne if you need to drive later on the tortuous roads of the area. . .
At a potato festival, it is normal to see lots of potatoes, different sizes, colours, shapes, etc. . . many other farm products were also on display and for sale. Picture one shows one of the halls of the fair, and you see not only potatoes are there, left, beer, right honey, vegetables at the back.But we are here for potatoes: some varieties of potatoes have very nice names as you can see on picture1 ; picture 3 shows samples of “mountain potatoes”, which here are produced with “biological agriculture” techniques (The AB label), and there are loads of trucks to buy (Picture 4) ; more traditionally produced potatoes are also for sale in big quantities (picture 5) .
On the last Sunday of October, or the first Sunday of November is the poato festival in Craponne; this festival was created in 2001, by the agriculturists here to promote their production, and within a few years, it changed from a rural fair to a real festival: I was told last year there were more than 17000 visitors.
Well, it is still a rural event where in folkloric manner the peasants of the area symbolically unload their potatoes at the station, then, they go through the village to a big square where the fair is installed, with lots of local products, music and food. For this event the local politicians show off, of course but the general ambiance is very relaxing.
The local language is Occitan, and the potato is called trifola, which mean three leaves; so this festival is called trifola.
On the main picture you see the members of the potato order (well, they are officially members of the brotherhood of the grated potato pancake of Craponne and surrounding*! no joke!)
More fun is to look at the people unloading the wagons of potatoes into carts pulled by a small tractor of a pair of ox.
A website gives general information (in French) about this festival.