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ludja

SW France Cooking Traditions

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It is interesting to think of cooks all over the US and other places excited and enabled to make these traditional recipes from the southwest of France in our own little corners of the world. Thank you so much for the wonderful update to the first edition.

With the piquant addition of some restaurant-inspired recipes in the book as mentioned earlier, (i.e. both old and new) it seems like the book mainly aims at capturing home recipes of the region.

Do you have a sense of how much of this traditional southwestern cooking is still being done in France at home? If so, is it more or less common than when you wrote the first edition twenty years ago? Is there an overall sense of continuance with the traditions, a strengthening or rediscovery of them or a feeling that the traditions are slipping due to "the modern age" and blurring cultural differences between geographic regions?

In a related vein, can you comment on the extent to which this particular regional cuisine is cooked by home cooks in other parts of France?

I also wonder if the cuisine is being preserved and enlivened by both restaurant and home cooks to the same degree at this time?

I realize these are quite a few questions, but I guess the common theme is querying your impressions on how this regional cooking tradition is being practiced and preserved in France today.

Thank you for your thoughts, Paula!


"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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I think everything you mention is true to a certain degree. I don't think people have altered their home cooking that much; the great SW ingredients are available to make everyday food.

The most popular fat medium is still duck fat. That being said, I doubt very many people cook the same way their grandmothers did. I know I don't.

As a food writer (and self-styled "culinary anthropologist") I always try to accurately record what I find in order to preserve it even if it's not common practice in home kitchens.

As to whether SWF food is practiced in other parts of France, I know at Christmas foie gras is cooked everywhere in France. And confit is served and eaten everywhere too.

In regard to the cuisine being preserved and enlivened by both restaurant and home cooks. One restaurant that does, and one of my favorites since the old days, is La Tupina in Bordeaux. There are others that "keep the flame" as Chef Xiradakis does, but his really is my favorite.

There are wonderful inventive chefs in SW France and I love new and exciting food , but the truth is when I travel there, I want to eat something traditional.


“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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