The legend of the magic bacon
Saint-Henri Parish, in the village of Québec, was the gathering place for the region's pious, a place where all the religious rights and customs were observed to the letter (which had the pleasant result of warding off the devil), notably the observation of Lent.
- Fasting from Ash Wednesday to Good Friday;
- One single meal per day (with a snack morning and night);
- Zero red meat.
Our story takes place one particular Fat Tuesday in the 1800s. The devil, who always wanted to sink his claws into this pious village, saw in this Fat Tuesday a unique opportunity.
He arrived in town the week before Lent and all the Good Works started. And the devil, who was known as the Stranger, asked the local fiddler to repair his violin (black, majestic, indestructible).
The fiddler fell ill the night before Fat Tuesday, preventing him from joining in all the festivities the next day. The Stranger offered to take his place.
When everyone had eaten their fill, the Stranger jumped up on the makeshift stage and started to play.
When someone cried “Midnight!”, the accepted hour according to Catholic tradition for the festivities to stop and Lent to start, no one reacted. Everybody continued to dance, despite themselves. (The intensity of the fire grew with the sound of the reels and quadrilles.)
The next day when he woke up, the fiddler noticed that the parish hall had disappeared, leaving only ashes in its place. He wandered about like a lost lamb for a number of days.
A few days before Easter, his heart heavy, he was heating his lard trying to make some kind of bacon with it, his daughter’s favourite Easter dinner, in the hope she would come home in time for the holiday. The lard needed several days of cooking.
While the lard cooked, he heard the faraway sound of the violin. The more the lard cooked, the closer the sound came. The fiddler added more lard to the fire, and then even more and more, until, incredibly, the parish hall rose from the ground.
In the newly reappeared parish hall, the habitants continued to dance. As soon as the bacon was ready, the Stranger suddenly stopped playing. Attracted by the aroma, he asked the fiddler to give him a piece. A bargain was struck: every year the fiddler, who happened to be named Lafleur, made the Stranger some of his homemade bacon on condition that, he, the Stranger, would never set his sights on his village again. With one catch: the bacon always had to ready in time for the Stranger’s arrival.
And, to avoid getting stuck without having any bacon ready at hand, fiddler Lafleur perfected a type of bacon which only had to be heated at the last minute, whenever the devil came around. And that, friends, is how the miracle of pre-cooked bacon came to be.
And to mark this wondrous occasion they even built a hall which would remain empty the rest of the year, and they called it… the Vidéotron Parish Hall.