Travellers who seek in restaurant of local reputation more
'characteristic' meals than are offered by the ordinary tourist
hotel are at first inclined to suspect that the dishes peculiar
to Southern France are little more than compounds of olive oil
As a matter of fact it is the complete understanding of the
use of these ingredients, aided by the subtle atmosphere of the
South, that raises southern cookery to the rank of a fine art.
The people of Bordeaux and Gascony have the
reputation of hearty eaters, and the local dishes have a
Among the many egg dishes omelettes au piment,
flavoured with mild pimentoes of a soft metallic taste, are
characteristic, as are also gâteaux de mais, maize-cakes
in the Italian style. Birds are much appreciated, from the
petits oiseaux stewed in thick black gravy or roasted on a
skewer, to the notable turkeys of Gascony. Dinde aux marrons,
turkey stuffed with whole chestnuts, is equal to the best
product of Norfolk.
Larks are killed during a few weeks in September and are
roasted in vine leaves; wood-pigeons (palombes) are
served en casserole; and the wild duck of the lagoons are justly
Most famous, of all, however, is the
confit d'oie, a conserve
of goose, made in the autumn. For this the fattened geese,
drained of blood, are flavoured with salt and garlic, and
slowly cooked in an earthenware jar; when ready they
are covered with fat and potted. The liver is treated
separately, either made into pâte de foie gras with
or perhaps stewed in wine.
Cèpes à la Bordelaise and fungi, such as are found in
the cork-oak woods, dried and fried in oil. They may be seen
hanging to dry in garlands in the village kitchens.
The oysters of Arcachon and Hosségor are nearly equal to
those of Maxenneg, and the matelote de lamproie is a rich
stew of the lampreys whose lusciousness helps to explain the
legendary fate of Henry I. Pauilliac lamb rivals Southdown
mutton in flavour.
BEARN AND THE PYRENNES.
The staple dish here is garbure, cabbage soup blended
with warm Béarnais pimento, haricot beans, potatoes, and a
portion of confit d'oie, so stiffly mixed that a spoon can stand
upright, in it.
Piperrade is made of tomatoes fried in goose or pork
fat with onions And pimentoes and served with eggs fried in oil.
Famous for tomatoes and snails, the latter called
escargots de vigne or petits gris. The cassoulet
of Castelnaudary is a substantial stew of mutton, pickled pork,
sausages, and possibly confit d'oie, flavoured with garlic and
garnished with haricot beans.
Roquefort cheese is the. most famous in the south; it
should be moist in appearance. In the ROUERGUE the
peasant's soup is oulade a dish of vegetables and bacon
named from the ' oule ' or copper pan in which it is cooked.
Mourtayrol, made in a ' mortier,'' is an Easter
delicacy, made of beef, chicken, ham, and vegetables, to which
are added bread, saffron, and water. The liquid and vegetables
are served as soup, the rest forms a second course. Petites
are small rolls of tripe stuffed with herbs and ham and
stewed in earthenware jars with lambs' feet.
The fare of AUVERGNE
Has, a reputation for monotony yet in no part of France do
we: find a greater variety of mushrooms which are delicious when
fried together. Boudin is a white pudding of pork
flavoured with fennel and rum and served with fried russet
The sweets peculiar to Auvergne are acacia flowers dipped in
batter flavoured with orange-water and fried, and milliard,
a kind of batter of pudding containing black cherries. '
Cadet Mathieu ' is nothing more than apple pie.
Farther West, in the LIMOUSIN, we may enjoy
clafoutis, a baked custard filled with black cherries.
The food of the LYONNAIS
is noted for its richness. Poulet Célestine, made with
one of the famous chickens of. the Bresse, is a lightly fried
chicken with a sauce of dry white wine and liqueur brandy;
crayfish, oreilles de veau farcies, and quenelles are
likewise famous at Lyons. The last is a rich dish of mashed
fish, breadcrumbs, and butter, shaped into a roll and stewed in
a pink sauce of cream and crayfish.
Fondue de Belley is a glorified 'Welsh rarebit' with
addition of eggs and truffles. Valromey in Savoy is famous
for its morilles a spongy fungus of delicate flavour, but
almost impossible to clean of sand.
The cooking of PROVENCE
is commonly regarded as most typical of the 'Midi' To be fully
appreciated, the midday meal should be served in a darkened
roorn and followed by a siesta. A typical meal might begin with
saucisson d'Arles, black olives, or 'pommes d'amour'
(i.e. tomatoes) as hors d'oeuvre.
The ingredients of the soup aigo boulido are oil,
garlic, herbs, pepper and salt, and yolk of egg.
In Marseilles bouillabaisse would follow, but in
Marseilles or its neighbourhood only (though Thackeray sings of
bouillabaisse in Paris), for in the gulf are caught the rascasse,
roucaou, and St-Pierre, the three fish which are essential to
its success. The complete dish is a stew of hard and soft fish
with onions, oil, garlic, saffron, and boiling water. The liquor
is strained on to slices of bread and served separately.
Vegetable dishes include various preparations of the
aubergine (au naturel or farcie), and artichaut
farci, moistened with oil and baked. Aïoli, a
mayonnaise, served with a disproportionately small quantity of
fish, is composed of vinegar, milk, breadcrumbs, and oil,
blended with pulverized garlic.
A mess of codfish called brandade is a favourite dish;
poutargue, from Martigues, is a kind of caviare made of
dried roe, oiled and pressed, tian, a dish of vegetables,
eggs, and fish, flavoured with cheese and garlic, is highly
esteemed at Carpentras.
The goat's-milk cheeses of St-Marcellin and Chabichou are too
often like plaster, but when in perfect condition are delicious.