To the uninitiated, it may be the most unusual festival ever encountered. To residents of Abbeville, Louisiana, it makes perfect sense. In fact, a festival celebrating the omelette isn’t even unique to Abbeville.
Legend has it that the omelette festival has its roots in southern France, around the turn of the 18th century. Napoleon Bonaparte and his army were traveling near the town of Bessières, when they stopped for the night. Napoleon dined on an omelette offered by a local innkeeper. He’d never encountered the dish before and was quite taken with it. He ordered the people of the town to prepare a huge omelette for his army, using all the eggs they had.
In 1983, three Americans on vacation in Bessières, France, happened upon an event – a giant omelette festival – commemorating that night two centuries before. The vacationers returned to their hometown of Abbeville, Louisiana, determined to honor their town’s French heritage by holding a giant omelette festival all their own. A new tradition was born.
Abbeville’s Giant Omelette Celebration is a two-day event. Both days offer live music, dancing, games and contests, art shows, antique shows, tasty local food such as crawfish maque choux, beer-can chicken, chicken & sausage jambalaya, alligator sauce piquante and much more. But the main event is Sunday – the cooking of the giant, 5,000-egg omelette.
It begins on Sunday morning with an Omelette Mass at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church. From there, a procession of local officials, dignitaries and chefs carry 5,000 eggs in baskets to the omelette cooking area in Magdalen Square.
Onlookers gather as a forklift lowers the 12-foot skillet over the fire. A team of chefs cracks the 5,000 eggs, and using their six-foot-long paddles, begin stirring together all the omelette ingredients in the skillet: the eggs, 52 pounds of butter, 4 gallons of chopped green onions, 75 chopped bell peppers, 40 pounds of crawfish tails and a variety of spices. The best part: everyone gets a serving.
For more information, visit www.giantomelette.org.