A staple of late-night diners, the humble omelette is a versatile and delicious meal that’s great for breakfast or dinner. If you’re part of the Brotherhood of Knights of the Giant Omelette, however, you take this dish very seriously. Every year since 1973, the Brotherhood of Knights gathers in Bessières and cooks up an omelette that uses as many as 15,000 eggs.
Though the festival has only been going on for 45 years, its origins date back to the time of Napoleon. While in the tiny town of Bessières, the famous general was served an omelette. He loved it so much, he asked that all the eggs be rounded up, so a giant one could be made for all his troops. Every Easter, 50 members of the Brotherhood whip up a 15,000-egg omelette in a 13-feet-wide pan greased with duck fat. They need wooden spoons as large as boat oars. The omelette is the star of the festival, but there’s also dancing and music to entertain the crowds, which number in the thousands.
Giant omelette festivals occur in other French cities and cities around the world. In 2017, eggs were in shorter supply because of a fipronil insecticide scare. Food safety experts assured the public the traces were too small to hurt people, but festival organizers in the town of Malmedy (in Belgium) were a bit concerned. To be extra safe, they got 8,000 eggs from local farms and the other 2,000 from supermarkets with untainted eggs. The Malmedy omelette also contains bacon and herbs, and visitors gobbled up the dish with no fear.
Stateside, you can find a giant omelette festival in Abbeville, Louisiana. The organizers were officially knighted by the Brotherhood of the Giant Omelette, so Louisiana could embrace more of its French heritage and join the other six cities that hold the eggy celebration. The Abbeville omelette is relatively small – 5,000 eggs – and packed with onions, peppers, and 15 pounds of crawfish tails.