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On a Saturday morning in September in the Normandy countryside, a group of men and women gather for an ancient French ceremony.Those gathered are elders in the area's gastronomic "confreries" or brotherhoods, there for the annual general meeting and initiation of an order that was set up, in this instance, to promote the culinary delights of the lining of a cow's stomach.Placing their right hands on the pot, its two newest members, Arlette Allix, 70, who used to work in communications, and her 71-year-old husband Christian swear to become ambassadors for tripe – specifically the famous skewered tripe of nearby Ferte-Mace – and to uphold Normandy's tradition "of eating and drinking well". With a tap of a bone on the right shoulder, the "grand master" inducts them into the association and presents them with their red-and-green regalia as well as medallions stamped with a pot and a small-skewered bundle.Seven emissaries from other fraternities are also made honorary members of Ferte-Mace's venerable tripe brotherhood. The fact that local butchers continue to churn out tripe – a humble leftover from a leaner bygone era with a small but committed fan base in northern France – is in no small part due to the efforts of the brotherhood, Pueyo argued.Many politicians from rural constituencies agree to bat for several brotherhoods, like Nathalie Goulet, senator for the Orne region, a vegetarian who nonetheless plumps for black pudding, white pudding and tripe among other local favorites including camembert.
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