The gourmet village ribbon was officially cut this Saturday morning, launching the festivities of this second edition of the Agen food and gastronomy festival.
It was welcomed by a few Cancon hazelnuts that the first visitors were able to discover the gourmet village, the heart of southwestern gastronomy for a weekend. A handful of hazelnuts which, on its own, sums up the spirit of the meeting.
“Quality products combined with talented chefs, it produces exceptional gastronomy”, as expressed, not without pride, a departmental councilor in the preamble to the festival.
Lot-et-Garonne is rich in an incredible variety of products, as the mayor of Agen Jean Dionis du Séjour reminds us “We are the leading department producing hazelnuts and prunes, we are the leader in strawberries, tomatoes , we produce excellent kiwis”, and the list goes on. However, people tend to forget that the economic conjunction pushes them towards hard discount supermarkets, somewhat abandoning the local. The pleasure of eating well seems to be withering away. “We eat more and more alone in front of our screen, which is barbaric for me!”, As the mayor of Agen observes.
So, to put the terroir and its sweetness of life forward, elected officials and organizers of this festival invited the first lovers of local products, those who glorify them on a daily basis, the great chefs, but also intellectuals to reflect together on the importance of eating well.
Did you know, for example, that a French person spends an average of 54 minutes at the table at lunchtime, while his British neighbor only takes his lunch break for 20 minutes on average? It is with these few figures that the essayist, philosopher from Agenais David Djaïz began his introductory conference. A way for him to demonstrate the privileged place occupied by the so-called French meal in our daily lives, a tradition recently classified as intangible heritage by Unesco.
The sub-prefect of Agen Florent Farge also underlines the omnipresence of references to gastronomy in our literature, “from the guts of Gargantua to the madeleine of Proust, it is everywhere”, he notes. And, even more so in the Southwest, this love of good food seems to make people envious. “I who often go to Paris, I can tell you that the south-west is identified as a place where you eat well and where life is good”, launches the deputy of Agen-Nérac Michel Lauzzana.
It was proud of his Lot-et-Garonne and Haut-Pyrenean roots that chef Stéphane Carrade then took the microphone, for a culinary demonstration that made the assembly salivate. On the menu, red mullet from the Arcachon basin (the chef officiates at the Ha(a)ïtza hotel restaurant), summer porcini mushrooms and black garlic. A dish prepared under the gaze of the public who could smell the different herbs used for this dish. Some having been picked up by the chef at home, in the Arcachon basin, and others brought directly from local markets by (top) chef David Gallienne.
“Ah yes, it’s spicy!”, “Can you smell the argan oil?”, “The sound of the sauce wriggling is terrible, it makes you hungry”, in a few minutes, Stéphane Carrade managed to awaken the five senses of the public, not hesitating to make them taste the preparations. A first “cook-show”, which seduced the assembly shortly before noon this Saturday. “It’s really excellent, he has to come and do it at my house now”, as a passer-by comments.
A real gourmet village
The food and gastronomy festival has been designed this year as a real little village. Visitors can enter, free of charge, and discover from stand to stand the work of some local producers (saffron, hazelnut, beer or wine). The latter can even participate, in a more than fun way, in the development of their smoothie. All they have to do is get on one of the bikes on the Interfel stand (colleges of professional organizations for the production and distribution of fresh fruit and vegetables) and pedal, to trigger the mixing of the chosen fruit. Foodtrucks and the Hang’Art bus are also present to allow visitors to eat on site. And the concept seems to appeal to the public, strolling with a drink in hand, between exhibition and ephemeral bookstore installed by Martin-Delbert in the heart of the festival village. This is where the authors present lend themselves to the game of dedications.