Bénichon (or ‘Kilbi’/ ‘Chilbi’ in German speaking parts) used to be more of a religious tradition when people said their ‘merci’ to the God for what has been harvested during the year. It all started in XV century when Bénichon was a 3 day long event in villages. You ate, drank and then if you had some energy left you danced. It’s still the same, just now it has lost its religious connotation. It mostly took place on the second Sunday of September. Nowadays you can celebrate throughout the year, if your stomach is ready for it you can eat traditional Bénichon menu every month. Sorry, not for vegans or vegetarians.
Traditional Bénichon menu might give you a big cholesterol rash, but it’s amazingly delicious and it consists of:
- Cuchaule (plaited bread seasoned with saffron) and moutarde de Bénichon (sweet-sour-spicy mustard)
- Broth and crouton
- Bouilli, cabbage soup with vegetables
- Sheep stew with grapes and mashed potatoes
- Jambon de la borne (delicious ham), sausage, veal tongue, bacon, cabbage, carrots and potatoes
- Leg of lamb or cabri, mashed potatoes and poires à Botzi (caramelized pears that come from the region)
- Cheese platter of the region
- Meringues and double cream
- Fruit basket
- Bricelets (thin crisp waffles), beignets (apple fritters), cuquettes (flaky pastry) etc.
The menu changes a bit depending on the place, restaurant, village. If your mouth isn’t watering yet there’s some photos to come.
For our Bénichon we chose Auberge de la Croix de Fer in Allières. Lovely restaurant with a self-taught chef Philippe Roch (more about the restaurant soon). We couldn’t have chosen better. Quality of food, atmosphere, portions! (don’t eat breakfast before going there).
We didn’t dance, we could barely move after all we ate but it was totally worth it. So if you’re in canton Fribourg one day search for dates of Bénichon and give it a try. Buy moutarde de Bénichon and cuchaule and have it for breakfast. Eat and drink as much as you can, you will burn it all later in the mountains.
Text: Agnieszka Wajs