Wednesday, 5 June 2013


I'm the first to admit that I know absolutely nothing about......chickpeas. Oh, except that they're the main ingredient in houmous. So there was an element of curiosity when we heard that a village five minutes down the way was holding it's 6th Festival of the Chickpea. So, along with friends who were staying with us, we decided to go and check it out. The programme was giving nothing away:

Montaren & St Mediers is a maze of labyrinthine narrow, stone walled, pedestrian laneways.  We followed the signs with the masked chickpea to.....of all places, Chickpea Land:

Where we emerged into a parallel universe, where the chickpea was the raison d'être :

I'm still trying to work out exactly what was going on. Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you....that happy, festive looking chickpea is smoking an enormous spliff, filled with....grass....literally. I kid you not. One of those signs translates as 'NO to coal seam gas...YES to chickpea gas'. Putting two and two together and judging by the amount of toilet humour going down, I'm assuming that chickpeas must have the same effect as baked beans....and contain a lot of dietary fibre. 

There was a veritable feast of chickpea dishes for lunch:

In honour of the festival, the local boulangerie was even concocting a special vegetarian fougasse stuffed with olives....and chickpeas. Usually down in these parts it's filled with a porky lard:

There was also a beautiful, bejewelled tent, complete with Persian carpets and lanterns and evocative of faraway Morocco, in which to eat the said chickpea delicacies:

Emotional singing in Occitan (the traditional language of this part of the sunny south), uninhibited dancing and the chanting of 'poischiche'....'poischiche'....'poischiche' was going on. Curiouser and curiouser. People had gone to a lot of trouble to dress up, not only themselves:

But also their pets:

Surely the most outrageous costuming went to the chaps representing the 'Confederacy of the Little Brothers of Unrepentant Farts'.....who were tricked up in lolly pink, ankle length robes topped off with sharply pointed hats, which made them look like a cross between the Ku Klux Klan.....and a condom. You'll just have to take my word for it as I'm afraid that the best I could do was the glimpse of one of their sandalled feet, accessorised with a toilet roll, captured in the above photo, sorry.

In case this wasn't all bizarre enough.....there was a Chickpea Museum:

And this was where things disintegrated into the seriously weird and wacky. The welcome sign reminded you not to forget that the psychic 'Mauricette Pea' was performing fortune telling readings divined through the interpretation of a bowl of chick peas. Here she is, in all her glory, heavily adorned with chickpea accessories and accompanied by the tools of her trade:

....and not to overlook the display of 'The Confederacy of Little Brothers of Unrepentant Farts':

'With Pegasus chickpeas of Montaren make gas and.....good wind!' If you are looking to increase your French vocabulary.....then a verb that you may not have come across in garden variety French lessons - at polite school or adult education classes - is 'péter' which is 'to fart'. Try conjugating that.'s not an irregular verb.

Like in any good museum, there was a guide leading tours:

The exhibits were exceptionally strange....the display below explores 'Research and Development' and includes an embryo in a test tube of a 'humano - vegetoide'....which I'm assuming is what you get if you cross a human with a chickpea. Of course, I could be wrong:

And an exploration into the origins of the mask worn by the masked chickpea - just like the dashing Zorro - and whether it is myth or legend:

The point at which I actually dissolved into uncontrollable giggling was when my husband found himself explaining to our inquisitive ten year old exactly what the enema can on display was and.....what it is used real life.... as he was somewhat stumped as to the supposed arcane ritual associated with the chickpea that it was referencing. Maybe he should have taken the guided tour. Or maybe not. Needless to say, the ten year old was surprised.....and horrified. But then Chickpea Land was just a tad like that. Zany and irreverent and a little bit off putting in it's absolute no holds barred perversity.

However, within this strange little world of the chickpea there were pockets of reassuring beauty and normality.....people who happened to live within the designated zone of the village which had morphed into the land of the chickpea had an open garden scheme of sorts going on.....for people to mingle, have drinks and eat their chickpeas in. Look how gorgeous the gardens were:

I still don't get it, though....and I don't think that it was lost in translation. The French usually seem so overwhelmingly sensible. The Festival of the Chickpea was anything but. We really should have taken that guided tour.



  1. How incredibly odd!! The chickpea?? I like a chickpea, but making a festival out of it is a pretty incredible thing to do. Perhaps they were having a joke at all the real pretentious festivals that go on in surrounding villages? Sounds like a fun/ surreal day out though. Did you get your fortune read? xx

    1. Yes the chickpea! Was a very fun day out...once we realised that they couldn't possibly be serious! Resisted the temptation to have my fortune read....she was just a tad scary! Rx

  2. Love all that chickpea eccentricity.

    Bought a Burberry coat from HK at a seconds shoppe a la our Georgian tour ladies which I am sitting here wearing as it is so cold.

    The level of unpacking/cleaning/decluttering has to be seen to be believed. I wish I could show you all the nice stuff I bought in HK.

    Miss you x

    1. Would love to participate in a show and tell...shame you are back in Brisbane! It must have been so wonderful to be reunited with your Mr and Master...your mum did a sterling job! Miss you too....feel like a cream tea, glass of bubbly and a chat! Rx

  3. That is hilarious Romy - loved the post! And chick pea sounds so much more fun and cute in French! S x


I LOVE hearing your thoughts! Rx