Category Archives: Food/drink/recipes

French Flavours: D is for Diablotins au Roquefort

I have been continuing my researches to bring you another in my series of recipes of Southwest France. Here’s one you’ve probably never heard of – diablotins au Roquefort. I certainly hadn’t. Easy to make, with readily-available ingredients, they are … Continue reading

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Cattle Country

Considering we are surrounded by them, I’m surprised I haven’t written more about these mainstays of local agriculture. Perhaps it’s because I have a love-hate relationship with them, especially when marauding herds have trampled down our garden. What am I … Continue reading

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French Flavours #3: C is for Cassoulet

I can’t allow the letter C to pass by without writing about cassoulet, the signature dish of southwest France. It’s been around for a long time and the correct recipe is the subject of controversy. What is it? A stew … Continue reading

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French Flavours #2: B is for lou Bajanac

In my A-Z of traditional French recipes, I’m trying to focus on those that originated in southwest France, where we live. So I’ve eschewed boeuf à la Bourgignonne or blanquette de veau, delicious though they are. Surprisingly, I found a … Continue reading

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French Flavours #1: A is for Aligot

  The temperature was approaching -10C when I went downstairs this morning – outside, I hasten to add. This is the coldest spell we’ve had for five years. In this weather you want rib-sticking food; nouvelle cuisine doesn’t hit the … Continue reading

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Appetising Return to Belcastel

Last time, I wrote about a ghostly story linked to the château de Belcastel. This week, we had the opportunity to make a return visit to this plus beau village in Aveyron. Not only does it occupy a delightful setting … Continue reading

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Walnut Time

The walnuts start to fall here in SW France around the end of September. By mid-October, it’s positively raining nuts. This year, we were afraid that our crop would be minimal. Many walnuts fell early and were blackened and mummified, … Continue reading

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Opération Escargot

France’s cuisine was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status in 2010, when it was included in the list of humanity’s intangible cultural heritage. Why “intangible”? Good food might be a consolation for the soul, but it’s also a feast for most … Continue reading

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Bach, an Ancient Village on the Causse de Limogne

This was a week of excursions. Yesterday, we rehearsed and sang in the biannual scratch choir concert in Puycelsi, a hilltop fortified village in the Tarn. As always, it was an inspiring event. The concerts are held in aid of the … Continue reading

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Is the Rural French Café Dying Out?

The village café-bar is a typically French institution, just as the pub is essentially British. Our nostalgic vision of French rural life places the café (often doubling as a restaurant) at the heart of the village, along with the church, … Continue reading

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Pastis: A Quercy Speciality

Hands up everyone who thought pastis was an aniseed-flavoured apéritif. It is; but it’s not a local speciality here. The pastis I’m talking about is an apple dessert made with very fine pastry, which is particular to the Lot and … Continue reading

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Le Temps des Cerises

The title (‘Cherry Time’) is that of a very famous French song written in 1866 and interpreted much later by Yves Montand. With the addition of some verses, it became one of the anthems of the revolutionary Paris Commune in … Continue reading

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Seasonal Treats: Asparagus and Strawberries

  When we first moved here, it was frustrating not to find strawberries or asparagus in the French shops in the winter. I completely changed my mind a long time ago. There is a lot to be said for enjoying produce … Continue reading

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French Regional Cuisine: L’Auberge Lou Bourdie at Bach

Bach is a small village on the Causse de Limogne, in the heart of truffle country. In common with many rural French villages, it’s a quiet place nowadays. But it does have a rather good restaurant, l’Auberge Lou Bourdie.

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French Restaurant Capers

French restaurants are currently on the menu in the news. A hapless blogger posted a bad review and was fined by a judge. And as from last Tuesday, restaurants have to indicate if any or all of their meals are … Continue reading

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Sweet Lavender

  Which part of France do we normally associate with lavender? Provence, naturally, where it plays a big part in the perfume and essential oils industry. But did you know that 10% of French lavender production at the start of … Continue reading

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A Brief History of Cheese

At the Tuesday market in Caylus, which stall has the longest queue? No contest: the cheese stall. It’s especially long in summer when the holidaymakers and second homers swell the population. But even in winter you can count on a … Continue reading

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Facts – and Fantasies – about French Wine

Today was cold, damp, miserable and unpleasant. So let’s forget the weather and le ras-le-bol fiscal (discontent about taxes). Instead, let’s warm ourselves in front of the fire with a glass – or two – of one of France’s best-loved … Continue reading

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Garlic and Garlic Recipes

What would French cuisine be without garlic? This pungent bulb has become one of the symbols of France. As often happens, personal experience led me to reflect on the role garlic plays in French culture, society – and especially gastronomy.

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Frog and Toad

  In culinary matters, the French and the British often compete about who first discovered a particular dish. A notable example is burn’t cream – crème brulée in French. Both countries claim to have invented it . Now, there is … Continue reading

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Goose Fat and Garlic

A few weeks ago – only just found time to write about it – I attended the launch of a new edition of Goose Fat and Garlic, a book about the cooking and recipes of SW France. Jeanne Strang, who … Continue reading

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French Provincial Cooking

When pondering what to serve dinner guests this coming Saturday I reached for my disintegrating copy of Elizabeth David’s French Provincial Cooking. Not because I expected to copy a user-friendly recipe but because it is chock-full of ideas. First published … Continue reading

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Chestnuts and Chestnut Recipes

This autumn’s chestnuts It’s that time of year again when the sweet chestnuts are falling. Very few chestnut trees grow near us but not far away, around Najac and Laguépie, they clothe the slopes. If you walk along the River … Continue reading

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Wine Blight: How the French Wine Industry was almost Wiped Out

France is peppered with wayside crosses. Some are modest and plain, fashioned out of a single lump of stone with perhaps a roughly incised date. Others are more elaborate, featuring carvings and inscriptions, in stone or iron. Some were erected … Continue reading

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Truffle Market at Limogne

I awarded myself a day off yesterday and did something I have been planning to do for a long time – initiating myself into one of the rituals of southwest France, a truffle market. Every Friday in winter, a small … Continue reading

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Winter Warmers: Chansons and Cassoulet

The cold spell is forecast to end this week but it’s not going without a fight. Last night it had snowed, not very much but enough for us to abandon any plans of going to the market today. There probably … Continue reading

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Chestnut Fair at Laguépie

It’s the time of year for gathering in the fruits and nuts before the weather turns at the beginning of November. Our kitchen is full of produce: boxes of walnuts – our own; cases of sweet apples – a friend’s … Continue reading

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Saffron: Quercy’s Red Gold

  Most people associate saffron with Middle Eastern cooking. But this exotic and highly-prized spice was successfully produced in the Quercy region of southwest France throughout the Middle Ages. After a hiatus following the French Revolution, production resumed in the Lot Valley … Continue reading

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Foreign Flavours: A New Anthology from Writers Abroad

The online writing group I belong to, Writers Abroad, publishes today a new anthology of short stories and non-fiction articles, entitled Foreign Flavours. The theme of the anthology is food, drink and recipes from around the world.

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Blithe Spirits: Quirky French Apéritifs

Behind the bar in all French cafés lurks a selection of bottles with evocative names such as Byrrh or Suze. They are usually made from aromatic plants to closely-guarded recipes. You still see ancient advertisements for them stencilled onto barn walls – … Continue reading

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