“There’s nothing like foie gras. Unctuous, silky and/or creamy depending on the preparation, every bite brings an unsurpassed, indescribable flavor flooding over the taste buds. With its high fat content, velvety foie gras melts in the mouth” — Paul Ebeling
Each region of France is distinct in its food traditions, and is famous throughout the world for specific foods.
Every area in France, or department, is renowned for a cheese, a grape varietal, or an ingredient so refined that nothing can compare, and the Southwest is no different. Here is an introduction to a world of tastes so rich and particular to the region that it is easy to understand why even the poorest peasant in Gascony eats like a King, and is heir to a rich heritage of flavors.
Foie Gras: No discussion of Southwest France would be complete without foie gras. Literally, the “fatty liver” of a duck that has been specially fed for the last wks of its life, foie gras is an often misunderstood part of French cuisine.
Waterfowl have a natural propensity to gorge themselves before leaving on long migratory flights. They store the fat in their liver, which serves as a gas tank, and under the skin, which protects them from the cold at high altitudes.
Humans discovered this fattened and delicious liver while hunting migratory ducks and geese, and soon found a way to reproduce it when the fowl was domesticated.
The 1st record of fattening ducks is in Egyptian tombs, where vivid paintings depict the special feeding.
Since the esophagus of a duck is thickened to protect it from harm when swallowing whole fish, frogs and other prey, it is impervious to pain.
A small funnel slipped into the mouth of the duck delivers a quick burst of mashed organic corn directly to the gullet. This high calorie diet reproduces the natural process of gorging, and causes the liver to expand and grow fatty.
The Southwest of France produces the most foie gras in France, which is the largest foie gras producer in the world.
Foie gras markets are common in the Southwest, and the creamy, silky liver can be enjoyed in terrines, mousses, soups, stuffed into poultry, sliced and seared, and in many creative ways that the chefs of the region continue to imagine.
Next up: Roquefort, “The King of cheeses and the cheese of Kings.”
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively