Discover Southern Europe, Issue 2, March 2019

Page 28

Discover Southern Europe  |  France’s Most Ravishing Museums

Photo: C.Monfray

Fabulous fowl If you have ever happened to visit some of Paris’ priciest butcher shops, perhaps to stock up on some premier cuts of charcuterie to take back home, you may well have come across ‘volaille de Bresse’, the most expensive chicken in the world. TEXT: KIKI DEERE  |  PHOTOS: MUSÉE DE LA BRESSE-DOMAINE DES PLANONS


aised in the historic region of Bresse in eastern France, the white chickens of Bresse have become a gastronomic symbol of France, not only due to their exceptional quality, but also the fact that the colour of their bodies match the French flag – blue legs, white body and red comb.

A Brief History The first mention of these much-prized birds was in 1591, when the citizens of Bourg-enBresse offered a number of birds to the Marquis of Treffort for his efforts in fending off marauding Savoyard soldiers. The long history of the Bresse chicken is recounted at the Musée de la Bresse, a large cultural site that showcases the region’s rich herit28  |  Issue 2  |  March 2019

age. “Visitors can learn about the gastronomic traditions of our region, not least of our world-famous ‘volaille de Bresse’, the star of our collection, with old egg cups, paintings and even poultry papier-mâché sculptures by contemporary artist Chantal

Dunoyer,” explains Aurélie Faivre, the director of the museum. Not to be missed is the historic 1894 Lyon banquet menu. Offered by the City of Lyon to the then President of the Republic Sadi Carnot in honour of the Exposition Internationale et Coloniale, a world fair and colonial exhibition, the six-page silk menu features elaborate depictions of the city of Lyon, the President’s speech, and details of each dinner course, including – of course – a truffled Bresse chicken dish. Belly sated with tender roasted chicken, President Sadi Carnot was infamously murdered shortly after the banquet. So important are chickens in this part of France that the Museum, which occupies an area of 48 hectares, raises its own. In the expansive grounds, chickens roam around freely. Their diet of wheat grain, corn and dried milk is kept deliberately low in protein

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