It starts here.
Fall. Autumn. L’Automne.
The season changes the minute the brochettes disappear and the crepinettes appear. It’s Autumn in Gascony, friends. Here, a complex seasonal shift of Gallic precision happens as the days shorten. The night markets stop abruptly, the kitchen gets serious again, and an army of tractors clog up the roads as they harvest the ripening orchards and vines- apples, pears, plums, and grapes.
Unperceived to the non-Gascon eye there is another sort of harvest afoot. I am never sure of the exact date. I just know that we must wait for the first fall rain. Then something magical and briny happens. The briny Atlantic and Mediterranean oysters that have been en vacances all summer, take a cold water shower and start to plump up again (it’s a sex thing). Next, the butcher’s cases are bare as the Butchers go en vacances themselves (adios Dominique & Christiane!). And then, when they return, and only then… do the seasonal packets of caul fat wrapped porky goodness called crepinettes appear.
Crepine is the French word for caul fat, that magical spider’s web of fat and transparent membrane that comes from the inside of a pig’s offal locker. Like an sturdy piece of lace, caul fat acts as a flexible barrier between the white offal and the red offal of our generous pig. Crepinettes are made as the fall season begins and are one of the first things we learn when first tackling the Fresh Charcuterie Section of Week One here.
Closer to the New Year, crepinettes may enclose a sliver of truffle as above. But here in the Lot-et-Garonne, where sweet-tart prunes serve as the perfect counterpoint to the sausage all year round, I’ll slide a pitted prune in the center of the packet. So what’s the deal with the oysters?
Raw Oysters and Crepinettes or grilled sausages are a classic tradition in the Bordeaux area of Aquitaine. I like the suggestion of a glass of Sauternes from Bill as a way to round out the flavor wheel- briny, honey, spicy, sharp, meaty and golden brown… pretty much sums up how I like to start my fall menus at Camont.
Someone said Crepinettes? I agree, now is the time, Elissa!