Les Bugnes Lyonnaises
During the month of February, and especially during the French Carnival period, you'll find that the bugne Lyonnaise is kind of a fetish in this town. Last week I mentioned to someone that I was thinking about this little fried confection and it was all it took to get him on a roll. This man instantly launched into a rhapsody about his grandmother's bugnes, and how they used to make them at home once a year the day before Lent. Bugnes have been sold in shops in Lyon since as early as the 16th century, with local records describing their crisp delectable texture. Indeed the bugne historically associated with Lyon is flat, rectangular and fried crisp, but both the flat and leavened kinds are common now.
As far as size and shape go, you can find just about any kind of bugne animal, depending on where you like to buy them. The shape of a bugne in anyone's mind is determined by the neighborhood where they grew up, family lore, or even a gastronome's current fave. Bugnes come in all shapes and sizes. Do not be ashamed to taste, feel the crunch or soft billowy sweetness, judge harshly, speak freely, and love your favorite with all of your heart.
In Lyon, this is a treat traditionally served only on Mardi Gras, but like many of the festival foods, the season has extended over time. You start to see them around the end of January and the boulangeries and charcuteries normally stop making them sometime in the middle of March. There is one vendor on the Quai St. Antoine that sells them year 'round! This means you can still enjoy them after today, that is if you don't give up fried pastry treats for Lent. Enjoy your feast today if you're celebrating Mardi Gras!