Over July 22-23, the tiny village of Montesquiou, immersed in the green hills of Gers, south-western France, will serve as a stage for the ancient Madeleine festival; a medieval tradition brought back to life by the Slow Food Gascogne Gersoise Convivium together with the Association du Bœuf Nacré de Gascogne.
Created to celebrate the Mirandaise, a historically important local cattle breed that also attracted Italians and Spanish to the region, this thousand-year-old fair will bring producers and the local communities together over two days.The first day is dedicated to the cattle fair, attracting breeders, chefs, butchers and other professionals working with the breed. The following day the gates will open to the public, offering them the chance to discover the history of the Mirandaise along with traditional local delicacies, such as the delicious brespailh. An Earth Market will offer various products from Slow Food producers, and the day will also be filled with workshops and entertainment, including dances and ancient Guascogne tales to be enjoyed by children and adults alike.
Once the king of the local countryside, the Gers Mirandaise ox was famous for its size and strength that enabled farmers to plough the extremely hard terrain of the area. Docile, powerful and hardy to high temperatures, the breed was very common until mechanisation of agriculture made it obsolete and brought it to the brink of extinction.
A small group of breeders, supported by the local Agricultural School, has formed the Mirandaise Ox Presidium to work with Slow Food towards establishing a quality production chain and create a market for the excellent meat. Infused with the local terroir, the product has great taste qualities and after a long break, it is time for this ox to reclaim its place in Gers' cuisine.
Click here to find out more about the Presidium
Click here for more information and the festival