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Cuisine and ingredients of Languedoc Roussillon, South France

 

Languedoc local ingredientsThe cuisines and ingredients used in Languedoc Roussillon, south France is surprisingly varied. Virtually every town or district in Languedoc has a favourite dish – often based on locally available produce. Although strictly traditional to the Toulouse area, perhaps the best known pan-regional dish is cassoulet – a filling casserole of haricot beans, mutton, pork or sausages and preserved goose – truly delicious and a real winter warmer. Another winter favourite, particularly in the more mountainous regions away from the coast is wild boar which will feature on many a menu. Appreciated for their succulent gamey taste, these pigs are hunted in the autumn and feature on many menus through until the spring. You really need to know a hunter to get hold of the meat yourself, though occasionally it is for sale in some of the larger supermarkets.

 

Confit de Canard
Confit de Canard

Another good example of the local cuisine of Languedoc Roussillon, south France, and equally popular at any time of year, is confit de canard, delicious pieces of duck that have been preserved in the bird’s natural fat for extra taste. Olivesare traditionally grown in the Uzège, the extensive scrubby woodlands which extend north of Uzès. Used in countless dishes and also turned into the delicious olive paste, tapenade, they are a particular favourite on the Languedoc dinner table - and a popular ingredient in the region's dishes. This area is also well known for its truffles, a potent black fungus which grows elusively on the roots of certain trees and is used to flavour everything from olive oil to omelets – though at quite a hefty price. As for other vegetables, asparagus and wild mushrooms, which grow in the forests of the Cévennes mountains in the departments of the Gard and the Lozère, are used widely in season. Apricots, peaches and cherries are just some of the region’s excellent home-grown fruits and are greatly appreciated when used in the dessert, clafoutis, a sweet pudding made of egg batter.

 

Oysters from Languedoc
Oysters from the Etangs

On the coast, the town of Sète is famous for its bourride, a fish stew with a garlicky mayonnaise. Other fish such as sea bass, tuna and sardines proliferate on the menus of many seafood restaurants. Languedoc is also an excellent place to sample fresh oystersand mussels which are cultivated in the shallow lagoons on the coastal strip. It’s also here that you’ll find the region’s rice and salt production, notably around the Camargue.

 

ChevreIn Languedoc Roussillon's upland areas, there’s greater emphasis on dishes with figs which grow in plenitude at these slightly higher altitudes. This is also the area for various goats cheeses – ask any local resident which is their favourite chèvre and they’ll loyally tell you it’s the one produced in their own village. This is also the area for honey which comes in several varieties – most delicious, and understandably more expensive, is lavender honey.

 

Languedoc CheesesMove towards the border between south France and Spain and it’s plain to see that the cuisine of south-western Languedoc takes on a distinctly Catalan flavour. Not only is there a marked increase in the consumption of both  olive oil and tapas, but there’s also a preponderance of grilled pork sausages to be found on menus. A particular favourite is the hearty soup known as ollada, popular on both sides of the Pyrenees, which is justifiably known for its lumps of pork.

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