Chicken and Egg- nothing new under the sun…


This little book dropped into my lap yesterday. Actually, it was gently placed in my basket by my bargain hunting sister on a day’s outing with the Camont Crew to the Fête des Plantes in the village of Lamontjoie.  In it is the record of one small chicken/egg producer during the year 1903. Funny how nothing much has changed. I can read the puffed up pride of new chicken ownership, the prolific accomplishment of rabbit wrangling, the punctilious accounting of sacs of grain and bales of hay between the delicate dotted lines.


Starting with 1 coq, 14 poules, 5 cocquelets, 2 canards, et 56 lapins, this little almanac chronicles the basse-cour on one small French farm in the year when the Tour de France began.  How many feathered and furred critters raised, how many eggs laid and sold, and how much feed, seed, and hay bought over that year? Who administered this rural menagerie? I don’t know, but I am sure it was a tiny but formidable French housewife like my neighbor Madame Sabadini at the Ferme Bellevue.


Over the year, her hens and ducks laid 2186 eggs. The season’s bounty peaked in April at 404 eggs and  by August had started to drop by halves each month, with barely an egg or two a day in October and November.   I imagine the disappoint of November marked by a minuscule zero, day after day until in a last flurry of fecundity, the ducks started laying for an early hatching.  Five large white duck eggs in Mid-December. The meticulous accounting scratched in a fine-nibbed ink pen tells more than the seasonal flow of farming; more than balancing the centimes spent and earned for feed and shelter. Most months, she spent as much or more than she earned; some months, she made several francs and centimes more than spent. It was a delicate balance. No one was getting rich. But they ate well.


What’s old is new and barnyard chickens have their place in the modern home again- 110 years later. This ad in the back of this French booklet is touting an American feed product that included smoked (dried) meat as well as grain, oyster shells,salt, ginger and iron. Here at Camont, we feed our flock a mix of whole grains- wheat, barley, oats, flax and corn, all the garden and kitchen scraps, and all the slugs and bugs they can scratch and peck in the orchard and parc.


It’s an old story, but I raise a few chickens- 10, and a fewer ducks 6, at Camont not because it saves us money, but because we eat the best tasting eggs in town. When a clutch of eggs is hatched, a few more cockerels are destined for the pot, a few more girl chicks for next spring growing into fat laying hens, a few old working girls retired into a golden broth Poule-au-Pot. Last year’s Christmas ducklings have now become summer confit.

We ate this simple salad yesterday. There is no recipe. Look- just an abundance of good escarole lettuce, the first local market tomatoes, and a bowl of hard boiled eggs topped by a lemony mayonnaise made with those golden yolks. One hundred and ten years of barnyard  productivity on a plate. Reason enough to learn about raising birds.

More stories about eggs and chickens at Camont:

 On counting eggs-

Making the Catalan Spinach Egg Tortilla  

What to do with duck eggs

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Diptych: Basque Smoked Trout at 43°07’39”N 1°22’23”W



It starts here. The nursery at the Truite de Banka tucked along the little river, the Nive des Aldudes, that runs from the border mountains. It ends here, 2000 meters away, on our plate at the Basque Country restaurant at the Hotel Erreguina in Banka served with a glass of chilled white Irouleguy wine.  The red roe, the green lettuce and the white asparagus cross remind me of the Basque flag.

The salted & smoked 5 year old salmon-trout are yet another way to say “charcuterie”in Basquelandia. I’ll be traveling with another Road Trip in April 2015- Come join me in Basquelandia.




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A week in review in the Butchery at Baradieu

Pigs & Newbies

It doesn’t take much to make a pig smile.  And what does it take to make four young cooks, butchers, and foodistas smile?  Our Spring 4 week Butchery & Charcuterie program begins here with the pigs. Here are six more happy things from the first week in Gascony.


 1. White rubber boots and a hooded Butcher’s coat.


2. Team Work by the Grrls Meat Camp Scholarship students Larissa & Ali.


3. Watching Dominique sheet out the ribs on an XL Baradieu pig.


4. Larissa jumping into the Boudin Noir production.


5. The steamy kitchen.


6. The tools of the trade for making headcheese, paté, fricandaux, boudin noir, and other French Farmstead Charcuterie at Baradieu.

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HAM FAIR- la Foire au Jambon in Bayonne

au Fête a Bayonne

It starts with a parade. Drums, whistles and stomping feet. The Easter Weekend in Bayonne has feted the Foire au Jambon- or Ham Fair for 552 years. Since the 1400’s farmers have brought their wares to the riverside quays of this Port city to share the wealth of the forests and pastures of the Atlantic Pyrenees farms. This was a big deal in the day. And it is a bigger deal now.

French Fast Food

From the important competition for the best Farm Produced Ham (see winner below) to the walking and browsing, eating and drinking- the Holiday weekend draws people to the Basque lands from all over France. Good friend Cathy Barrow arrived to report on the fair for National Public Radio (, and we headed south through the mountain pig farms of Les Aldudes, past the smoked Truita de Banka, and on to the Coast for a few days of Gascon R&D- Research & Devour. Little did she know she would become a media star in her own right!

Mrs. Wheelbarrow on FR3 TV

From the beautiful displays of French Farmstead Charcuterie like the one from Arruabarrena below …

the Ark of Charcuterieto the Basque Porc  or Kinto brand hams raised in Les Aldudes by Pierre Oteiza and company, Local artisan producers- over 30 producers filled a salt-scented tent selling and sharing their wares. 


Reporting from Basquelandia… Au Marché. St. Jean de Luz France



At Les Halles- the brick and iron work market in St. Jean de Luz, the French coast, the Basque Countries.  Here, the light is aching clear as the sound of fishing boats rocking in their harbor cradles, small waves sanding the beach, and the clatter of knives and forks from a slew of small restaurants act as soundtrack.IMG_2294

Sweet almond pastry and black cherries Bateaux Gasque float in pastry creme. I am still looking for ‘the best’.IMG_2374

Easter Spring lamb from gigot to kidneys vie with line caught St. Pierre for the Sunday menu.IMG_2373


A petit blanc and a  jambon beurre sandwich breaks the fast at la Buvette de la Halle. Spring Color pops. IMG_2372This 5 minute walking tour of the market at St. Jean de Luz in Basquelandia is brought to you by Salt Circle Roadtrips. More information for September’s dates here: CLICK


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25 Springs… making myself at home.

IMG_1700I was born under a wandering star… at least that was what the astrologer told my Mom when I was 13. Quadruple Sagittarius with all sorts of trouble rising. What she didn’t say was that as much as I loved traveling, I would dig and dig and dig until I made a strong foundation before I built my home.  So after digging deep around these parts-what I often called my Long Village-for 25 years, I finally have made a home. 


I Heart Australia: Finding France Down Under


I found myself saying this over and over during the last two weeks-I heart Australia. And this is why.

Over the last two weeks,  Christiane and Dominique Chapolard and I traveled the Victorian Countryside visiting farms, towns and markets. We came to meet some former students, make some new friends, and learn a little about life with pigs down under.  The French Pig Workshops, farm chats and special lunches and dinners were shared with over 50 people-farmers, butchers, charcutiers and chefs. That would have been reward enough with new found energy for the sort of Seed-to-Sausage gospel we preach. But best of all was traveling the two lane roads lined with ghostly reaching eucalyptus trees from farm to homestead to charming gold rush villages and meeting people on their home turf-that vast sky over an end of summer golden, gum-forested landscape called Australia.


Jonai Farms- Eganston VictoriaIMG_0771

Meet Mr. & Mrs Jonas of Jonai Farms. Jonai Farms spills down a slope of open fields edged in eucalyptus trees with a view of the paddocks and pastured farmland from the Moonrise Porch. Tammi and Stuart Jonas and their three bright and welcoming kids shared their home, their table and along with their their Large Black pigs hosted our first ever French Pig workshop in Australia. They generously offered their farm and life over a long weekend that stretched to just one more ample biscuits-and-gravy breakfast before we left. 

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Looking at France …from afar and from within.


This timeless scene- the Basque charcutier Pierre Oteiza and a table of French fans.

I had thought I would write a post about my  trip to the Salon d’Agriculture in Paris last week. You could call it the largest Producer’s market in France. Then I read David’s great photographic account on his blog here; I bow to his alacrity and fabulous pictures!  But before you take a stroll through the Pavillion #7 with David, Susan and I (and we only made it through one part of the amazing farm show!) think about this. This is what I see from within France. 

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Australian Pigs with A French Accent… French Pig Workshops in OZ

Come watch a French Pig Fly… to Australia!

We are super excited to announce that we are packing The French Pig Butchery & Charcuterie Workshop bags for a round-the-world jaunt to Australia, Melbourne and Brisbane areas, for workshops, dinners and special events from Gascony in Southwest France into the kitchens, farms, and butcher shops of Australia- March 14th to 19th, 2014.