Everywhere you turn in France the gastronomy is intricately woven into the local culture, and the rural region of Gascony is no different. Unlike its more renowned counterparts, such as Paris or the Loire Valley, it is not first on the list of many visitors to France, but for those who do delve a little deeper, this wonderful corner of the country has much to offer, especially if you enjoy your food. |
River boat cruises in France that take in Gascony and the Canal des Deux Mers, which comprises the Canal de Garonne and the Canal du Midi, offer the opportunity to taste many of the local culinary delights, a few of which we are going to tempt you with right now.
Introducing Gascony’s (Gers) Gastronomy
When you’re on board any one of the wonderful river boat cruises in France, you can expect to eat like a king and the quality and quantity of food on a water based holiday through Gascony will not disappoint. Known as ‘The Land of Gras’ (Fat), this area is celebrated by all who live here, with the autumn season hosting many “Marchés au Gras” (markets that sell duck and goose products). If you happen to be on a river boat cruise in France’s Gascony over autumn you will see these markets everywhere, showcasing foie-gras, poultry carcasses and sometimes even live poultry. But don’t worry if you’re not travelling at this time of year as all of these fabulous products can still be sampled.
Made from the liver of ducks or geese, this fatty, nutritional pate differs depending on which bird it is derived from. Goose foie-gras is the most traditional and is fine and delicate with a silky texture. The duck foie-gras, which is preferred by some, is more rustic and bursts with character. You will definitely get the chance to sample both on river boat cruises. In France's Gers region the poultry are bred in a different way and are corn fed and free range, giving them the edge when it comes to superiority.
Poultry of the Gers
Reared in the most humane way possible, the poultry from this area is revered and chefs tend to use all parts of the bird when they cook. Fois gras uses the liver, but the fillets, wings, neck, carcass and even the fat is incorporated into many other dishes. From the typical yellow chickens of the area, that are cooked to simply melt in the mouth, to the nuttier tasting black chickens and the delicious capon, poultry in Gascony is a staple on most dinner tables.
Many dishes also feature game, so you can expect to be offered woodpigeon, woodcock or even partridge when your onboard chef is preparing your meals. Game is usually stewed in the local wine, giving it an elevated ‘je ne sais quois’!
Gascony Beef, Lamb and Veal
The cows found here tend to be well adapted to the local climate and landscape and so are generally a hardy breed. As you cruise along the canal you will see herds grazing leisurely in the surrounding fields. Once used to work the fields, the cows are now bred for the juicy meat that has made its mark on many Michelin starred tables.
For red meat lovers, there is much to look forward to when on river boat cruises in France's Gascony region. Lamb and veal are also very popular.
Garlic of the Gers
The soil of this area is conducive to growing the white garlic of Lomagne. It is a big meaty bulb that occasionally has purple stripes, The garlic is an essential for almost every dish produced in Gascony.
Hopefully now your mouth is watering and you are thinking about booking your next water based adventure in this beautiful part of France. Book with a reputable tour operator and you can look forward to a holiday that will most certainly linger on the taste buds.
Author Plate Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK's most respected provider of all-inclusive, luxury river boat cruises in France. Part of a team of experienced barging aficionados, Paul is first in line to endorse the perks of a slow-paced barge cruise to anyone looking for a unique holiday experience.
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