Today is Mi-Carême, a built-in cheat day in the middle of the 40-day Lent period.
Lent is all about penance, and deprivation and austerity. By contrast, Mi-Carême is a day of eating, fun and hijinks.
The date for Mi-Carême changes every year. This year, it falls on March 8, 2018.
Photo courtesy Montmagny et Les Iles
Mi-Carême is pretty much a forgotten holiday in Quebec today, but at one time, people would dress up in costumes and visit their neighbours who had to try to guess their identity.
Today, Mi-Carême is better known in Acadian New Brunswick, but it’s still celebrated in a few villages in Quebec, most notably L’Isle-aux-Grue.
L’Isle-aux-Grue: Home of Mi-Carême Cheese
L’Isle-aux-Grue is a long, flat ribbon of islands just downstream from Quebec City, where the 143 people who live here still celebrate Mi-Carême.
Isle-aux-Grues is also home to a local farmer’s co-op called Formagerie Iles-aux-Grues, where they make several artisanal cheeses including Le Mi-Carême, Le Tomme de Grosse-Île, and Le Riopelle, after the famous Quebec painter who once lived and worked here.
Jean-Paul Riopelle was drawn to the islands by their picturesque rural beauty and incredible sunsets, and the hundred’s of thousands of snow geese that migrate through the area each year.
Meal Suggestion for Mi-Carême
There is no set meal for Mi-Carême, but a great way to celebrate this holiday and break up the monotony of late winter weather is with a light supper of freshly baked bread, a wheel of Mi-Carême cheese, some cold meats, a nice pâté like Terrine de Canard au Porto and a good bottle of wine.
You can try finding Mi-Carême cheese it at your local grocery store, or head down to the family-owned cheese shop at the Atwater Market, Fromagerie du Marché Atwater (134 rue Atwater, Montreal; (514) 932-4653).