My September column for French Property News
Rillettes de Tours
One of the best ways to ring in the weekend is with a trip to the local butcher for the makings of a rustic planche de charcuterie for our Friday evening apéro. I’ll pick up things like wrinkly saucissons flavoured with herbs and spices, delicate slices of cured hams, thick slabs of pâtés and small tubs of creamy rillettes. Though I usually end up bringing home a little of everything (it’s hard for me to choose favourites), I am especially partial to rillettes, a shredded meat spread which originated in the Touraine region of the Loire Valley. The word ‘rillette’ is derived from the Old French word ‘rille’, meaning ‘thin strips of pork’ and first found in a document dating to 1480. ‘Rille’ was also used by Humanist author and Touraine native François Rabelais to refer to a “brown pork jam” (“brune confiture de cochon”) in his novel Tiers Livre (1546). Three centuries later, Honoré de Balzac wrote about “les célèbres rillettes” from Tours which were “prized by gourmets, but rarely appeared on aristocratic tables” (Le Lys dans la Vallée, 1836). It wasn’t until the end of the 19th century that the peasant recipe tickled the taste buds of Parisian connoisseurs and became the delicacy we know today.
Image: Tours Val de Loire Tourisme