Saturday, 30 October 2010

Manger ou ne manger pas?

Confit de canard (fatty fried duck)
I dare say my French is incorrect, but 'to eat, or not to eat' has hardly been the question... I confess I am eating myself around France at present, and can see no signs of it abating. I remember the amazingness of French cuisine from last time, except now I have more money to indulge my every eating whim.

The pastries here are incredible, and I am travelling with women who enjoy them as much as I. There is the obligatory croissant for breakfast (along with baguettes, boiled eggs, meat, cheese and yoghurt, if we're lucky), plus tarts of all different kinds, pain au chocolat, macarons, chocolate eclaires, custard-filled pastries (I forget what they're called)... Tres delicieux. Sometimes we have two or three pastries a day – but it doesn't stop there!

For lunch we usually have either a filled baguette (like a salad roll), or maybe some quiche bought from a patisserie, or we sit down in a brasserie or cafe and have 'plat du jour' (plate of the day). This is usually very unhealthy as well, but we are trying to savour and experience the different dishes of the region. The other day we had 'confit de canard', which is a duck leg cooked in lashings of duck fat – with fries. I feel a bit ill when I think of it, and indeed it was too fatty for me. But it had to be tried. Yesterday, we had croque monsieur (fried cheese and ham sandwich) with fries. I think I must have put on a kg already.

The other regional delicacy we have tried is foie gras (pate made from the liver of fat geese or ducks). This is HUGELY popular in this part of France, but I was a little uncomfortable trying it, because of how they force-feed the birds to make them fat. So I decided to have it once only (and it tasted fantastic). It also means I am trying to steer clear of duck generally, but it can be hard around here, when they serve so much of it.

For dinner we have mostly been going out as a group to a restaurant selected by our leader, and many of these offer set menus for a very reasonable price (11-15 Euro). Last night (in Cahors) we ate in a local restaurant that didn't even show us a menu. The eccentric waiter/owner kept bringing food to our table – showing us the choice of dishes if there was one – and we ended up having five courses. There was potato soup, a vegetable tarine (or foie gras as an alternative), a delicious main course of duck fillets (or mushed poisson with mashed potato), a cheese plate, followed by a choice of desserts (I had some custard thing with meringue on top). On top of that there was black wine (a speciality of the region) and we rolled back to our hotel.

It goes without saying that we have been drinking our way around France as well. Mostly we just ask for 'vin rouge' (red wine), and mostly it is very drinkable. We've had bottles with dinner on occasion, and these have been extra nice. Our vin rouge consumption begins at about 5pm with a pre-dinner drink (or we have time to kill before meeting up with the group) and then continues with dinner. I should emphasise that we're not having much more than 3-4 small glasses over the course of an evening, so it's not a total booze-fest. Our group is very restrained and merely enjoys an odd vin rouge or two.

Cahors - fresh food market
This morning we visited a renowned fresh produce market in Cahors, and I picked up some nuts and fruit (plus other dainty delicacies for lunch on the train). We were also lured into the clutches of a cheese seller, who thrust samples at us for tasting (yum), so of course we bought some. It cost us 8.7 Euro for a modest wedge of cheese, but apparently it will last 3 months out of the fridge. We intend to commence our enjoyment of said cheese tomorrow, when we have a picnic during our walk in the Pyranees.

Tonight we went to a creperie for dinner – more cheese, and lots of it, but at least we didn't have any dessert. I really am going to have to stop eating like this, or my arteries will clog up. Hopefully tomorrow's hike will help burn up some of the calories!


  1. Love all your blog entries. Sounds like you're having an absolutely gorgous time, and really making the most of your trip.

    As for the eating and drinking ... if you're eating like this, and having fun, you won't clog up your arteries. They will only clog up if you're stressed! So, enjoy, I say!

  2. Thanks! And I REALLY like the way you think - deinfitely no stress here, so munch munch munch...