Jean-Claude Gotteri is Le Grand Maitre of La Confreries des Chevaliers du Goute Boudin – the brotherhood of the knights of black pudding tasters. Each year they host the pinnacle of the black pudding world, la foire au boudin at Mortagne-au-Perche in Normandy.
Here, Jean-Claude tells blackpudding.org all about the splendid work of Le Confrerie.
When the people in Mortagne first had the idea of a festival, they realised that they had to create an association to run it and to guarantee the quality of the pudding.
The Confrerie was to represent Mortagne on the national stage and showcase its speciality. There is an old colonial map in Paris and on that Mortagne is represented as cooked blood, another way of saying black pudding. That’s where they got the idea from.
In 1963 they held the first festival and nine black pudding makers took part. After that the competition got famous and it motivated the people of the town. They were excited by it.
The only people who cannot enter are the pork butchers of Mortagne. Although they are very, very good we have to be seen to be fair in the judging so they are not allowed to enter. But the butchers from here have had a lot of good publicity because of the competition.
This year we had 600 entrants including 160 foreigners from all over Europe and a few beyond that. There was between four and five tonnes of black pudding made and eaten here the weekend of the competition.
I am a pharmacist rather than a butcher but the love of black pudding is in my blood. It was my father, Aldonce Gotteri, the first great Chevalier, who came up with the idea for the festival.
He was a founding member of the Confrerie and later became the Grand Maitre. When he died in 1985, I took over as Grand Maitre ‘provisionally’. Now, 24 years later I am still doing it.
Currently there are 42 members of the Confrerie but there is no fixed number. In all, there have been 2500 members of the brotherhood since it began in 1963. People can stay in it till they die or they can leave, it is up to them. And it’s not just men, we have women members too.
Members are co-opted into the brotherhood. The way it works is that an older member suggests a younger one to join and if they are accepted then the older one is responsible for the other person and how he behaves. We meet once a year and on special occasions.
When new members are enrolled as Chevalier then they have to promise to uphold the traditions of the brotherhood and to promote black pudding as much as they can. They also have to swear allegiance to the black pudding and to promise to eat it every week.