BY MARIE-AUDE KONÉ & ROBIN DUNIPACE
This Blog is a summary of some of our previous articles about Gascon Food. Here, we are setting the scene for our planned November Blog, when we will look at the cooking ideas and plans for 2024 of two excellent local cooks who are both Working Partners of Simply Gascony:
LAURA WASHBURN – https://ateliercuisinefources.com/
DOUNIA SILEM - https://www.doo-eat.fr/dounia-silem.html
Both Laura and Dounia have cooked very successfully for Simply Gascony holiday house parties in 2023 – an idea for your holiday in 2024?
France is famous throughout the world for its cuisine, but perhaps there is no region in France quite so well known for its authentic, locally sourced food as Gascony…
One of the best ways to get to know an area when you are on holiday is by visiting the village markets, each full of fresh products coming directly from local farmers in all their seasonal variations. Both Dounia and Laura specialise in leading guided shopping tours of these markets, showing our SG guests how to select and buy seasonal produce, then how to prepare and cook it, to create a delicious meal in your rented house.
Tarte Tatin - Fait maison!
Over many generations, Gascony has developed a reputation for its distinctive cuisine and local produce. The flavours are generally rich and traditional, with hearty wines, its signature brandy Armagnac, gently reared tender red meat, really tasty chicken, the famous Toulouse Sausage, ‘Cassoulet’, and a vast range of patés and ‘charcuterie’. And there’s plenty of other options to explore….
From Lectoure with its Charentais melons in the north, to the Black pigs of Bigorre in the foothills of the Pyrenees in the south, from the Basque Country and the fish of the Atlantic coast in the west, to the restaurants of the city of Toulouse in the east, a culinary tour of Gascony will not disappoint. The food has real taste and Gascon cooks don’t shy away from plenty of ingredients and flavour. Think deeply traditional French cuisine, but with plenty of warmth and aroma.
Particularly popular are duck and goose. Although well-known for the (for some people, controversial) delicacy ‘foie gras’, no part of the bird is wasted, with portions of the breast meat known as ‘magret’ served in a variety of different ways, while the legs and wings are often preserved as ‘confit’ and the gizzards used in a ‘Salade Landaise’. Goose and duck fat is never wasted and is traditionally a corner stone of Gascon cooking – potatoes roasted in duck fat are delicious! Gascony also produces some of the finest ‘White Garlic’ in France, perhaps in the world!
Magret et Frites
When it comes to fresh fruit and vegetables, you’re spoilt for choice thanks to our warm Mediterranean climate with its long growing season and lots of sunshine. There is a market somewhere nearby every day of the week, even in the smaller villages, and the displays of fresh fruit, vegetables and cheeses are a marvellous sight, guaranteed to get you cooking! Root vegetables are the order of the day when it comes to hearty stews and soups in winter, whilst the appearance of new crop asparagus tells everyone that summer has arrived.
Strawberries and Asparagus in Spring
Of course, every corner of France has its own native cheeses and Gascony is no exception. Some of the best are the goat and sheep cheeses which come from the Pyrenees and the Pays-Basque in the south of Gascony.
When you are staying in Gascony, it’s well-worth visiting:
This is an excellent group of four shops in Auch, Agen, Condom and Lectoure (and an online boutique) that – as they say:
“…since 1994, offers and promotes the products of our Gascony to all gourmets… Foie gras, terrines, confits, wines and Armagnac... For more than 20 years, we have worked with local cooks, canners, winegrowers, liquor makers and confectioners to offer you quality products.”
Look out for our planned November Blog, when we will cover the cooking ideas and plans for 2024 of two excellent local cooks who are both Working Partners of Simply Gascony.
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