there is a french confidential tradition that isn't suitable for all situations but which is a concentrate of french rural culture, a link between french gastronomy and art of living.....this old custom is called: "FAIRE CHABROT".
it is mainly done in western south france in rural family or in families where a rural tradition keeps being transmited.
"faire chabrot "is a sign of conviviality, simple pleasure, taste for simple things and love of tradition.
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Step 1: When to Do Chabrot?
first be aware that, done in unproper conditions, performing a chabrot, even with the intention of celebrating the memory of french rural traditions, can lead to a fail if you're not in the right context...
-formal situations (business)
-dating a girl (even a french girl....)
-fine dining (even fine french food)
-doing it with the wrong products (chinese soup and new zealand chardonay)
-unprepared guests (they will immediately think you're a dirty redneck from a little unknown european country)
-conviviality (a trip around southern france in bed and breakfast, a group of good friends courious about different cultures...or even a diner where you're alone but in a good mood.)
-willing to talk about good old days in france, customs and art of living...
-french food brought by friend, french meal, just ask the waiter if you're in a french restaurant ("do you think the chef would aprove if i do "chabrot"?, this soup was delicious.....succes guaranteed)
-of course you need a french themed meal, but any occidental rural/simple soup done with honestly cultivated products will do the job (if you HAVE to do it with wine from another country than france , try to use merlot or at least a red wine with a robust body)
and of course:
if you're invited to have dinnner in a humble western southern french family of rural farmers, to show you know the custom.
Step 2: BUT WHAT HE HELL IS CHABROT???
imagine you're a french farmer from the real countryside.
you worked all day long in a small farm, breeding only a few number of high quality meat cows, a few sheeps, one or two pigs and a family of chickens.
you have a garden for all the vegetables and a little house with a very nice open fire right in the kitchen/living room.
this evening, you do not have time to cook a complex meal, and anyway, you like simplicity and simple things, food, clothes, cars, etc.
the best and simplest meal is a good soup with vegetables from the garden (depending on the season), and a piece of lard, smoked meat or something tasty.
add a piece of bread from a big loaf the baker delivers once a week, and a piece of strong smelling cheese, and you're ready to discover CHABROT.
simply pour a bit of red wine into you're hot dish when you've just finished your soup.
some families add the wine while there is still a bit of soup in the plate or bowl, but this can lead to extremely long discution about the fundamental theory of chabrot.....
this is why I suggest you add wine only into the empty plate/bowl unless you're confident enough to explain why you prefer adding wine to your soup.
the hot plate with the soup remains mix together with the wine are incredibly enjoyable....like a secret only the humble ones can enjoy....
your chabrot is the best part of your meal and prepares you to enjoy the end of your dinner....it is a kind of toast to the memory of the ancestors who enjoyed the same simple pleasures as you do today.
Step 4: Work Your Chabrology
check the internet for increasing your chabrot knowledge.
(this website is quite good , it talks about french art of living and has a good analysis of the chabrot:
perform chabrot as often as possible and watch the reactions of your guests...
work your chabrot and find the best soup, the best wine, the best temperature and the best conditions to enjoy the best chabrot...
(to me: simple potato, garlic, leeks, carrots, lentils, beans and a piece of dried ham, pour immediately the wine in the emptied plate, drink directly from the plate,. Best if done alone near a campfire or an open fireplace...)
my father learned us to make chabrot when we were 10 or something....
you can also make chabrot in the emptied shell of your soft boled egg (not recognised by all the chabrologists.)
in some places, chabrot is called "chabrol", but i mainly heared it from people who performed chabrot for the show (chabrot posers...), as for the empty plate/little soup remaining dilemna, there is a chance you start a fight if asking "is it chabrot or chabrol?"
chabrot is suitable for women and adds a hints of distinction an maybe makes her more attractive in someway ( if done by a young women at the right time and place...)
get ready to have to face a rude night if the people you shared chabrot with were the right ones.....they will immediately consider you as an exceptional human being gifted with extraordinary manners, a solid knowledge of french traditions an customs and probably a taste for a lot of different homemade liquors you won't be able to refuse....the key to a good old french hangover....