To be tasted this Sunday, the chabrot, or chabról in Occitan, this “large glassful of local wine in the rest of the soup”, a centuries-old tradition brought up to date at La Table de Bezonnes.
From dawn until no time; every evening, blow out the candles, open the cellar doors, turn off the lights, salute the stars. To them, thank you. It’s been a few days, a few nights, already a magnificent eternity, that La Table has been welcoming, somewhere in the heart of the village. Bezonnes-sur-mer, islet-en-Causse. Hay barn at the end of the course, open porch on the cascading gardens, hanging pontoons. Months, perhaps unconscious years, that we paving without knowing it, in a nook of hope, this piece of calade as a dock, these days washed by the rain, to which the restaurant ship seems to have devolved its moorings. Here we are now, on the path, taking it happily, despite the meanders, the occasional brambles, the summer storms, the aches at the end of the day and the salutary coffees when the sun has barely risen. But God, life is beautiful. Sails-out-winds-from-behind, weigh anchor, bring the horizon closer. As naive as confident. At work, on the way, alive. So that of the energy, one deploys even less of it than one gains some. For this very beautiful work, to take care, a little, from here, of the landscape.
Edible territory, culinary department: La Table, a family project, entirely dedicated to experimentation and the archive of this Alimentarium of forty-two kilometers around Rodez, invites you from stopover to stopover, over the services, to the common road. To geography through the belly.
From evening to evening, the plate, the glass, the place, participate with the guest in this crossing. And like a station on the high seas, the balance point of dinner: bone broth of the day, rinsed with a chabrot with plum from Grandmother’s orchard. As an “Aveyronnais hole”. Mystical.
In the kitchen, the best simple things. Carcasses of the evening gathered in the bottom of the pot, absolved in the strictest intimacy. By a bro of water, a bay leaf, a few blackberries picked – childhood memory – near the school. A dash of walnut oil, Moulin Méjane. So.
Last night, boar. The day before, sheep. Again, lamb, veal, rabbit. Once, fig leaves, another sage from the garden. Again, savory, elecampane, polypody. “Broth” from “boil”, of course. “Give a broth”, they say, to heat until boiling. Petit Poucet of French gastronomy in the mid-19th century, cult in the capital with the rise of “Parisian broths”, city center institutions – nearly two hundred and fifty then: Bouillon Chartier, Bouillon Racine, Bouillon Duval -, Alexandre Dumas wrote about him in his Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine: “French cuisine owes its superiority to the excellence of French broth”. Just that. So many grades for this saucepan water, most often flavored with leftovers. Because “from an old hen, we make the best broth” said Brantôme – spy in the kitchens, at the Court of the young Charles IX then with Catherine de Medici, both fond of these “meal decoctions”.
Because secret, if secret there is, could not be elsewhere than there: to know, to feel, with which sauce to drink its water. Italian style – in umido, in guazzetto, where lentils or clams swim. Japanese style, in dashi, infused with seaweed and mushrooms. Scottish style, in broth, on a barley base, garnished with lamb. Or here, at the bones of the evening, stripped to feed the service, and thus honored. “There is music in the sigh of the reed; There is music in the bubbling brook; There is music in all things, if men could hear it,” we relearn in Lord Byron’s Don Juan.
Do like Chabrol
So, with bubbling streams and “music in all things”, dare chabrot in the bottom of the broth. Chabrot with the house plum. Grandfather’s Chabrot with grandmother’s eau-de-vie. Chabrot or chabról in Occitan, secular tradition, in a nod to childhood memories. Chabrot de cabroù, from the Latin capreolus – to drink like a goat at the trough.
Or should we believe the Chabrol Academy in Pays de Montaigne, a brotherhood dedicated to the cause from its Dordogne, asserting that Montaigne himself, “the great, the author of the Essays, the double mayor of Bordeaux , a citizen of Rome, who had become plague-stricken while wandering” is said to have stopped one evening with his troop on the edge of the woods, seeking refuge with a family generous enough to offer him a meal; which ended, “among the men, women and children, with a large glassful of local wine in the rest of the soup.”
And with surprised looks, the host told: “How do you think we stay healthy, in this time and in this country so unhealthy? I learned this from my grandfather who had it from his father who had noticed that only his neighbors and his family, those who added wine at the end of the soup, survived. I have therefore made it the rule for my family, and can thus welcome you without risk. Conquered Montaigne, exporting the custom the next day along his way, would then have invited the whole country to “do like Chabrol”, from the surname of his benefactor for a night.
Be that as it may, and with contradictory versions, drink this evening from the plate, from the bowl, in memory of the meats at dinner, to the health of the few tastes of comfort inherited from grandmother’s shelves. Perfect match: the alcohol swallows the fat that swallows the alcohol; only the flavors survive; on the lips, the encounter. Until the next morning. Happiness. Like a flirtation, “chabot plum bone broth”, a loving kiss.
With Indian and Catalan roots, Aveyron native by adoption, Alix Bellegarde is a head researcher. With the anthropologist Antonin Pons Braley and their children, they travel the world to archive the food cultures of island and northern regions. In Aveyron, the Pons Bellegarde family welcomes, within the family farmhouse and its gardens, at 7 place de l’Eglise in Bezonnes: gourmet table, gourmet bookshop, tea room, delicatessen, microbakery, culinary anthropology journal , editions and art gallery. Reservations at email@example.com or 06 86 82 37 00.