National Geographic : 1922 Jul
CAMARGUE, COWBOY COUNTRY OF SOUTHERN FRANCE THE EDIBLE SNAIL FLOURISHES IN THE CAMARGUE A favorite feature in the gastronomic romances of the French and Italians, the edible snail, tradition says, was introduced into Britain by the Romans. This species is herbivorous and a great enemy of the gardener, but in the wild Camargue is welcomed by the herdsmen, for whom the Helix pomatia furnishes many a meal. The hat furnishes the yardstick by which to measure the size of the shells. charges, and in a cloud of dust the man is bull-dogging the beast. Although thrown by the animal, he has succeeded in encircling its neck, and, tightening his hold, he brings it to earth amidst tremendous applause. Held immovable, the bull is marked. Then it scrambles to its feet, bellows, and joins the lowing herd. Each young bull goes through the process of being muzzled, an operation which consists of placing in its nose a slab of wood called museau, shaped like a half-moon. The animal is free to graze, but the muzzle, falling down on its nose, prevents it from sucking. In time this slab of wood decays and falls off. "THE FIGHT FOR TIHE COCKADE" From the natural pastoral drama, the fight between man and beast incidental to branding, was developed the Provencal "fight for the cockade." The origin of this contest antedates the oldest traditions. It gratifies the passion of the Provencal and the Languedocian peasant for this peculiarly humane type of bull-fighting. The Provencal fight for the cockade has nothing in common with the Spanish fight to the death, which has been cele brated for eighty years, with ceremonial pomp, in the arenas of Nimes, Arles, Marseille, Beaucaire, and Lunel. In the villages the fights are staged in temporary inclosures formed of carts, barrels, and boxes. Formerly the seven animals used for the day's sport were always driven in by gardians. Now it is only in Languedoc that this picturesque custom is kept up, for in Provence the animals are brought to their bovine Olympic in special wagons. It is to Le Cailar, about 12 miles from Nimes, or to the neighboring villages, that one must go to see an abrivado, the rapid charge of the gardians, taking the bulls to the local fight. At daybreak the crowd gathers in.the fields to eat, dance, and be amused by the snorting of the bulls.