Provenance. Traceability. Local sourcing. These are the 'in' words of food shopping today and they all apply to the produce of Jean-Pierre Campaci.
M Campaci is a butcher based in Les Halles, the permanent covered market in Carcassonne. The market houses a host of butchers, 2 fishmongers, 2 cheesemongers and a bar - of course there is a bar.
M Campaci specialises in beef and veal and, to my mind, it is the best beef and veal in the market. The beef is a deep maroon colour with creamy layers of fat running through and the veal is the sweetest rose pink - the colour itself is evidence that the beef has been well hung and given time to mature and that the veal comes from healthy young cows given the freedom of a life outdoors.
The evidence of the good provenance goes further. He has the certificates to prove not only what breed the beef is but also the farm it came from and indeed which animal it was, who it's mum and dad were, it's star sign and it's favourite band - well, maybe not the last bit but you know what I mean in terms of knowing everything there is to know about where your food is coming from. He even has photos of him proudly standing with his hand on the rump of his chosen animal.
All of that would mean nothing if the taste didn't live up to the promise. I can assure you it doesn't disappoint. I have cooked his cote de boeuf on the BBQ, his bavette on the grill, his saute de veau in a blanquette, his jarret in a daube and his osso bucco cut specially to order from veal shins - all of which were wonderful.
He makes steak hache to order from pure ground minced beef, which is often minced in front of you whilst you, and a growing queue of people, wait - but there is no tension because most of the queue are probably about to order the same and because there is a good natured banter amongst the assembled line orchestrated by M Campaci himself, who is by nature a smiling example of French bonhommie.
As well as the beef and veal, he sells some excellent lamb, also with traceability to the Montagne Noir, just to the north of Carcassonne, some pork and a range of his a la maison prepared sausages, bacon, chorizo and pre-cooked dishes such as lasagne.
In my mind he is the epitome of a good butcher, French or otherwise. He engages his customers in conversation, he wants to know how you are going to cook his produce and is always forthcoming with his suggestions for the cut you need and the cooking time.
Finally, he always welcomes my market tour clients and offers them a tasting of something - a piece of saussicon - no matter how busy he is, and for that I am very grateful.
PS. Order 4 steak hache and he will give you 4 more gratuit - now that is a bargain.