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Despite Europe’s Egg Scare, a Belgian Town Unites Over a Giant Omelette

Kudos, Knights of the Giant Omelette.

For the past 22 Augusts, the 14,000 townspeople of Malmedy, Belgium, have come together with hands out and bellies empty. Each summer, in the square, the local chapter of the Global Brotherhood of the Knights of the Giant Omelette tends to an enormous pan. Their mission? “To prepare and serve, free of charge and full of joy, a giant omelette.”

The brotherhood sprung up in the 1970s in Bessières, France. A cracking idea, it turns out, is a cracking idea: Rapidly, it accrued outposts all over, from New Caledonia to Argentina to Belgium. Knights don toques blanches and wield wooden spoons the size of oars. The pan itself is appropriately vast: 13 feet across, with a handle (decorative, apparently) made of a telephone post. The vessel sits over an open fire and, eventually, contains 6,500 eggs and many, many pounds of duck fat.

But this year, on Tuesday, there was fear, along with chives and bacon bits, on the lips of some diners. A scandal, in which thousands of eggs were found to be contaminated with the insecticide Fipronil, has worried consumers across the continent. Not these, chapter cofounder Benedicte Mathy told the Associated Press. Organizers apparently verified the sourcing of all the eggs and deemed them safe. Still, not everyone was as confident. “We’ll see how it goes, because you still hear a lot of rumors and people are saying they’re a bit frightened,” reported “grandmaster” Robert Ansenne, in an interview with the BBC.

Traditionally, giant omelettes made by the brotherhood contain 10,000 eggs or more. This year’s was smaller because of the concerns over contamination, as well as a drizzly forecast. The event apparently went off without a hitch.