Georges Rouzeau - 2009-04-20
Between the départements of Cantal and Lot, a small family-run business continues in its exclusive practice of producing farmhouse pork which it transforms into hams and saucisson of the highest quality.
Deep in the heart of the Châtagneraie region of Cantal, quality French Charcuterie resists the onslaught of globalisation and the importation of Polish and Hungarian pork products, like the little Gaul village resisting the Romans. The great starred chefs such as Ducasse and Bernard Loiseau's restaurant make no mistake - when ordering their smoked pork breast or saucissons (French dry sausage)they choose 'La Maison Laborie.'
Far from being a pig's tail, the story of this charcuterie is a wonderful tale of Auvergnat entrepreneurship. In 1932 at Parlan in the depths of the Cantal countryside, the grand father Romain Toyre worked simultaneously as a taxi driver, farmer and barber (how did he manage?) He also owned the village café-hotel-restaurant where he regaled his customers with his own home made charcuterie which he made during the winter.
A few years later, after the war, this fellow did a great trade selling his charcuterie in Paris with the help of his coal merchant brother who in those days ran a restaurant in the Rue Quincampoix. The die were cast and up to this very day, from restaurants to fine grocers stores, from the markets to the Charcuterie butchers, the Maison Laborie would be making its living selling pork products.
We are greeted by the grandson, Laurent Laborie, a man built like a rugby player. Laurent is in line with new developments like the sacrosanct European standards, he has built a new production workshop and an air drying site at Labastide-du-Haut-Mont (the highest peak of the Lot département.) Listening to him one would think we were in Parma, the Italian Mecca of ham. Laurent is also planning to buy a 75,000 € ham massaging machine made, of course, in Italy.
During our tour of the Parlan factory, he told us how the business' philosophy has basically remained unchanged from the beginning. Namely buying from neighbouring farms nice fat pigs of around 12 months of age, fed with cereals and raised outdoors, not slaughtering them too early and keeping to the correct drying periods. For example the jambon de coche (ham from a sow who has given birth), whose bulk is synonymous with its unrivalled taste, must be left to dry for 24 months.
The other hams receive the same exclusive treatment, using the highest quality of meat, salting and finally a double drying process, first to eliminate the water from within the ham and a second time to enable the salt to penetrate (there is a triple salting process.) The hams are then matured from 16 to 24 months in the pure, dry air of Labastide-du-Haut-Mont.
The Maison Laborie's Red Label Superior Quality Sow meat dry Saucisson sets a standard by which others are judged. It has lean sausage meat, is coarsely minced, with only 5% water content, is free of artificial flavouring and excessive salt, with natural intestine, is hand brushed and matured for 3 to 4 weeks in a traditional wooden drying shed.
Amongst their many other standard bearers we also have to single out the Farmhouse Dried Pork Breast matured for a minimum of four months and a delicious Salers meat Dry Sausage. This is how one becomes a favoured charcutier of the finest French restaurants.
Salaisons Laborie Fils
Shop atLe Bourg
+33 (0)4 71 46 12 61
Au Paradis du Cochon
Shop at20 quai Albert Bessières
+33 (0)5 65 34 02 12
Tourist Information for the Département ofCantal