French Weddings, French Farms, and French Food. Let's Have Some Fun.

*Warning: this post has explicit photos of deceased pigs...
fire pig roast
So, um...this is how pigs get roasted
Q: What do you get when you combine a dead pig, a wedding, and a John Amory?

A: A meatless pig carcass      (Good joke? No? Not so much?)

Who ate the pig? The wedding party or the John Amory?
pig roast
John and Fred daintily taking the pig to be harvested after cooking it over a wood fire for 11 hours 
(Fred had been awake since one AM!). Why is John curtsying? Let's not talk about it, ok?
Maybe I’ll never tell.

OK, you got me, I’ll tell. Mostly the wedding party ate the pig. But the John Amory helped. And I helped too. I helped a lot. And I will regret not being able to provide my helping services in the months to come.

You've all heard the quote, “If you build it, they will come.”

Well, Karine and Fred built it. In 2004, they used all they had to buy a big chunk of land with some aged and falling buildings, began the slow process of restoration, and now and people come have weddings or receptions or family reunions, and all Karine and Fred have to do is provide the space and usually the meals (Karine is a licensed chef). I should mention that I'm totally simplifying their careers. They work hard, but they like it.
authentic french crepes
You see that? That is only the beginning of three
full trays of French crepes...
Fred fries the beignets.
  
And they have their system down. It's a sweet gig: weekends only, professional kitchen situated right next to their house, access to party time, leftovers, etc. And sometimes you can even get an excitable Wwoofer to help out.

Up top, for example, we have John covering some Brittany-style crepes (or galettes) for the wedding luncheon. As traditionally served, they’re filled with a sausage (from the farm) and butter. Sometimes, the French keep it simple. And for the record, John and I probably wrapped about 200 of those babies that day (no actual babies were harmed in the process).
Karine preparing her grandmother’s 
recipe for authentic beignets
cooking on the stove
Leeks, apple compote, and blackcurrant jam bring prepared for the wedding
Excuse me if you find the following dead pig pictures graphic...I suppose enough exposure desensitised me a bit. But at any rate, it's part of a day in the life, so bienvenue.
It’s not abnormal to feel the urge to pick your nose  whenever you see a pig being prepared for the spicket. You’ve been warned.
whole dead pig
This is awkward.

Apart from that, what else have we been doing?

We had a little photo session with some of the un-dead pigs. And by the way, before you turn your noses up at us hanging out with pigs, they’re actually pretty smart. They protect their skin in the sun, they use the toilet in designated non-feeding areas, and they have personality…they’re pretty cool half-dog/half-goat/half-flamingo creatures.
pigs in water
They are such hogs when it comes to bathwater
flock of sheep
What are you looking at?
We spent some more time with the sheep, who, unlike pigs (and goats, for the record), are relatively boring and dumb. But they do mow the lawn in an earth-friendly manner and they do always come when called. Which again, is pretty stupid of them sometimes (“like lambs to the slaughter…”). Maybe I have a thing against sheep. I suppose it's just hard for me to see the point. Their wool is not worth much in Europe these days, and unless you go through the process of slaughtering them yourself, you have to pay to get that done...so is the cost of rearing them really worth just having lamb to eat? I think I'll buy mine off a neighbor.


Nonetheless, if you happen to be interested, I've posted a video of said sheep call and the resulting herding of the sheep, which is pretty easy. You just kind of stand in the general vicinity of where you don't want them to go, and they move.
video

I also had a photo session with the farm Poitou donkey, who happens to be A-MAZ-ING. He’s huge. He’s huge and his ears are almost huger. And he basically has dreadlocks. Apparently it's the oldest recognized breed of donkey in France, and it's extreme rarity coupled with its sociability makes it quite a prize to have around. And just to reiterate, the thing can grow dreadlocks.  I'm kind of obsessed;. Feel free to purchase me one as a gift?
rare donkey
rare donkey
I love you. Do you love me?
We ate some “authentic” French food, courtesy Karine & Fred...
escargot in shells
Escargot, some topped with bleu cheese (a beautiful, heart-wrenching pairing), and some with a garlic/parley sauce. 
Frog legs, despite all the hype, are bit too much work for the payoff in my opinion. Plus, Karine and Fred told us that unfortunately, most of France gets their legs from Asia! We’ve been duped! So no more legs for me unless I’m absolutely in the mood and they’re absolutely local. Regarding the escargot, I am ever-faithful. Some came in edible faux shells which were buttery and crunchy and mind-blowingly good (they look like this).
how to make frog legs
A pile of frog legs.
how to cook rabbit
Baked rabbit legs with a rosemary-dijon marinade

Lastly, remember those rabbits John helped to butcher ? Well, we ate them. I mean, we ate parts of them, cooked in a rosemary Dijon marinade over carrots and mushrooms. It was pretty damn yummy. But would we kill and eat rabbit again (i.e., would John kill a rabbit again while I nervously/uselessly stood by)?


Probably not...(read about our changing view on meat at the bottom of this post from last week).

As our time here draws to a close, I know that I will miss the Auge family dearly. The relaxed afternoons, Fred's witty remarks, a raised eyebrow and mischievous grin from Karine. Our Wwoofing exchange with them has been unforgettable, primarily because they always kept in mind the importance of making the experience an exchange.

It's what traveling is all about.
pig on a spicket
Work it, boys
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