Sunday, December 26, 2004

Les Bons Entonneurs Rabelaisiens


Last February our trade organization had a conference in the Loire Valley city of Tours. Our banquet was held in a cave in the town of Chinon. As opposed to most of the Loire region, in Chinon the wine is red and is straight Cabernet Franc. I don't know much about wine, but my understanding is that Cabernet Franc generally cannot stand alone. However, there is something about the soil and climate in Chinon that makes their Cab Franc different. I really enjoy it. I enjoyed a whole lot of it the night of our banquet.

I was one of ten members of our group chosen at random to join the Brotherhood of Rabelais. The Brotherhood is perhaps Chinon's local version of an Elks Club, with a mission "both to perpetuate the teaching of Fran├žois Rabelais, the humanistic and lively writer of "la joie de vivre", and celebrate the virtues of the Chinon wine for which every dignitary intends to be a passionate ambassador."

The ceremony involved trumpets, robes, medallions and sworn oaths. My memory of all this is somewhat vague. This may be due in part to the other requirement of entrance to the Brotherhood, chugging all the wine from a goblet. Perspective in the photo may be misleading -- this was the better part of an entire standard bottle. And I must note that it was not the first nor the last wine I consumed that evening.

My induction was a great pleasure and honor. The local Brothers take this ceremony with some seriousness but with tongue in cheek as well. The details of the banquet dinner are also vague, but I remember it as some of the best food I've had at any meal, and amazingly so as 250 of us were served at once.

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