A Festival of Amphibian Cuisine

April 23, 2010

I have just accepted an invitation to a Frogmore Stew Party in late May. I am told this is a South Carolinian Low Country dish.  It reminded me immediately of a little known and possibly fictitious event in France. Part of my acceptance note is as follows:-

“Of course, I hope you all know that this date is probably coincidental with Le Grande Festival des Grenouilles Cuites which occurs every year in the small town of Mangezvite, nestled in the rustic foothills of the Massif Centrale. Every late May and early June tens of thousands of frogs have from time immemorial gathered along the banks of the short rapidly flowing streams that descend from the Massif into the Rhone Valley to feed on the abundant insect life and of course mate, vigorously and often. It is this public and erotic display that persuaded the historical inhabitants of the region to create some of the best recipes for Frog known to man and celebrate this in a festival of amphibian love and gustatory excess. Young and old alike delight in donning the traditional Robe Longue de l’Amour de Grenouille and hop around in lustful leaps hoping to show that they are Le Grand Vert de Mangezvite.  The Mayor of Mangezvite chooses the best dressed female frog and receives special favors from the winner in a sort of Droites de la Grenouille Aînée. This old practice has been banned many times by the authorities but no-one takes any notice, least of all the Mayor. Visitors from Lyon, Clermont Ferrand and even from Paris have often tried to attend the Festival but the mayor does not announce the exact date and time until the signs are right. Any visitors who do show up are encouraged to stay and be fleeced by the local hoteliers and restaurant owners who then publish their new Menu de Grenouille. C’est tres cher!  No-one really knows exactly how many years the festival has been running but the town prospers, even if all the children do seem to look terribly similar to the mayor.”


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