On the morning of the 21st April you may well hear the cry of ‘les cloches sont passes!’; the bells are passed! As many you already know, one of the most charming French traditions is that on Le Jeudi Saint (Maundy Thursday), the church bells fly to Rome to receive a blessing from the Pope. When they return on Easter Sunday, the bells are said to distribute chocolate eggs and other such treats, prompting la chasse aux œufs or Easter egg hunt.
The consumption of such delights should be strictly limited, as tradition dictates that the main meal of the day should be lamb or pork followed by a selection of cheeses and the Easter brioche known as la gâche de Pâques. Yet, such a repast is modest when compared with the dish created some 579 km to the south of Chateau Bois de Giraud in Bessières.
As the story goes, when Napoleon Bonaparte stayed in the village, he so enjoyed an omelette served to him by a local innkeeper that he requested/demanded/ordered one large enough to feed his entire regiment on the following day. This inevitably required every egg in the community and since 1973 the residents have created such a meal on Easter Monday.
For those readers with an urge to create the Emperor’s food of choice, your shopping list should include 15,000 eggs, 25 litres of cooking oil and about six kilograms of seasoning. The cooking time is around 90 minutes although this is allowing for the services of approximately 50 volunteers. In terms of utensils, a reasonable-sized frying pan that weighs over 2,200lbs will prove invaluable. Another useful tip is that as this is a dish designed to be enjoyed by 4,000 people, we recommend distributing the omelette in the Chateau grounds.
And finally, wherever you are, may we wish you a happy and peaceful Easter.