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Regional French Recipes


Adam Balic
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I have several good collections of French regional foods and several books on specifc regions (Alsace, Corsica, The South-West, Burgundy), but after my trip to the Dauphine last year I realize that there are many many interesting regional dishes that are not covered in these books and inspired by Kevin's Italian regional cooking thread, I would like to devote at lest one meal a week to trying to educate myself on some of the lesser know dishes/regions.

Are there on-line or published resources that people would suggest?

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Marmiton.org has all the basic french recipes - when I eat something and want to reproduce it, this is the first place I look to check if I have the ingredients right. It is very basic, homestyle French food - you tend to need to know the name of the dish if you are looking for something regional as I don't think there are regional sections on the site. I often use the site for the exact name of what I want to cook and then French google it to get a more exciting recipe or to tweak what marmiton has to offer.

Did crayfish in champagne last night, using a recipe from the Champagne region. I had eaten this before but had not cooked it. The marmiton recipe was dull and not at all what I was looking for - found what I was looking for on one of the Chateaux sites. Yum.

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I have plenty of basic middle class home cooking recipes (Madame St. Ange etc), but I guess I am looking for things that will be cooked regionally only and have not really been incoporated in more general home cooking collections. So as good as it is, no Boeuf Bourguignon and more things like Perdreaux aux Fides for instance.

Edited by Adam Balic (log)
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I have plenty of basic middle class home cooking recipes (Madame St. Ange etc), but I guess I am looking for things that will be cooked regionally only and have not really been incoporated in more general home cooking collections. So as good as it is, no Boeuf Bourguignon and more things like Perdreaux aux Fides for instance.

http://www.recettes-et-terroirs.com/ theoretically has a collection of regional recipes, in fact it is not easy for the uninitiated to tell the regional recipes from the non-regional ones. But that's a good start. I'm still searching, actually I do know of a site for this, but I lost the URL.

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Adam, I look for little cookbooks published regionally when traveling through la hexagone, like one called "la Cuisine du Bon Gras' or 'Recettes Paysannes en Lot-et-Garonne'. Usually local newstands carry a selection. Editions Subervie in Rodez (no website) did the Recettes Paysannes series of the Aveyron, Lot, Perigord, Gers, Lozere, and Tarn.

There is also a lovely book called "Mourjou, the Life and Food of an Auvergne Village:- Peter Graham I turn to, and of course, a few regional specialities from my own long village in "A Culinary Journey in Gascony" including the SW classic Vetou Pompele's Poule-au-Pot. As a guide, I'd look to see what grows abundantly in any given area and you can bet that the regional dishes reflect that. I'll be happy to send you a couple from the Garonne River Valley if you like; just drop me an email.

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http://www.recettes-et-terroirs.com/ theoretically has a collection of regional recipes, in fact it is not easy for the uninitiated to tell the regional recipes from the non-regional ones. But that's a good start. I'm still searching, actually I do know of a site for this, but I lost the URL.

Thanks for the infomation, the site looks very good (after a little bit of seaching about). I will let you know how it goes.

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Adam, I look for little cookbooks published regionally when traveling through la hexagone, like one called "la Cuisine du Bon Gras' or 'Recettes Paysannes en Lot-et-Garonne'. Usually local newstands carry a selection. Editions Subervie in Rodez (no website) did the Recettes Paysannes series of the Aveyron, Lot, Perigord, Gers, Lozere, and Tarn.

There is also a lovely book called "Mourjou, the Life and Food of an Auvergne Village:- Peter Graham I turn to, and of course, a few regional specialities from my own long village in "A Culinary Journey in Gascony" including the SW classic Vetou Pompele's Poule-au-Pot. As a guide, I'd look to see what grows abundantly in any given area and you can bet that the regional dishes reflect that. I'll be happy to send you a couple from the Garonne River Valley if you like; just drop me an email.

That is very good advice about the regional produce, thank you very much. I have the Peter Graham book (published by Prospect Books I think) and you are correct these books are a good place to look as well.

I have a fresh wild boar ham in that needs to be cooked tomorrow, so for the first less common regional French dish I am going to make Choucroute de navets a'la Colmar tomorrow.

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Also, look for items by the Brittany-based publishing house Ouest-France. It has a long tradition of sturdy, no-nonsense books on various subjects, including regional cooking. Not only of Brittany.

When you travel in France, do search local bookstores and maisons de la presse for small regionally-published cookbooks... well I realize John has given the same advice. Indeed I strongly recommend those books, which are accurate, informative, often with terrible photography and styling (which really earns my sympathy), and very far away from the uniformizing touch of urban food snobbery.

Search the Internet and used bookstores for books published by the éditions Edicentre. They had a collection of fairly large cloth-bound books on regional food, as seen through the romanticized memories of old-time lady cooks ("mères"). They were often house cooks, employed by local bourgeois — solicitor, doctor, etc. or the curé. That's exactly where French food at its best was born and where it can still be traced. I always loved the book about Auvergne, "Margaridou". The ones about Provence ("Misé Lipeto") and Languedoc ("Fourmiguetto") are also very good.

Here's a link: http://edicreer.homeip.net/Catalogue/CollectionsTerroirs.asp

I guess they're still in print. I see they have another one on Norman cuisine, that one I'm thinking of ordering too.

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I have a fresh wild boar ham in that needs to be cooked tomorrow, so for the first less common regional French dish I am going to make Choucroute de navets a'la Colmar tomorrow.

Adam, as promised, I posted a recipe on my blog for what do to with those bits of leftover wild boar ham that you will have! Leftovers are often the basis for good regional dishes. French Kitchen Adventures- J is for Jambon

Oh, and another classic book- Madeleine Kammans' "When French Women Cook" a resource I fall back on, time and time again.

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I have a fresh wild boar ham in that needs to be cooked tomorrow, so for the first less common regional French dish I am going to make Choucroute de navets a'la Colmar tomorrow.

Adam, as promised, I posted a recipe on my blog for what do to with those bits of leftover wild boar ham that you will have! Leftovers are often the basis for good regional dishes. French Kitchen Adventures- J is for Jambon

Oh, and another classic book- Madeleine Kammans' "When French Women Cook" a resource I fall back on, time and time again.

Kate thank you very much for this (lovely site BTW), I think that this is a very good idea for the left overs. A near identical recipe was cooked in 17th century England (called a "Dutch Pudding" I think). I will let you know how it goes.

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OK, this is my first effort.

Choucroute de navets a'la Colmar

The turnip are cut into sticks and salted. This can be done for 3 weeks or so, which means you will get lactic acid fermentation etc or you can do what I have done and salt it overnight with juniper berries and pepper. After salting they are well washed and at this stage they are flexible, but not mushy.

gallery_1643_978_287807.jpg

Onions are cooked in lard until softened and golden

gallery_1643_978_645310.jpg

Now the washed and drained turnips are added, along with white wine to cover, juniper berries, bay leaves and some pepper. This is simmered until the liquid is absorbed and the turnips begin to fry. This can also be done in the oven.

gallery_1643_978_499100.jpg

When cooked they can be served with ham, sausages, game or bacon. The flavour is buttery slightly acid with the resinous taste of the juniper berries. In this case I served it with some boiled and glazed wild boar gammon that I had. A really nice dish.

gallery_1643_978_198383.jpg

Edited by Adam Balic (log)
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Nice, Adam! The other night I could have used this inspiration - I just souped up some choucroute - I've been putting some thought into your regional recipe source question.

The recipes circulating on-line are not ever my primary source when I'm researching a region, just because I have never found much well documented info, it is really difficult to sort out. I like to do my own research as close to the source as I can get it - but first I figure out where I want to go and do the background work! There is a lot to choose from!

For those really not sure where to start, I have found that for a basic overview of the regional dishes, Waverly Root has done some beautiful descriptive field work, and gives some nice points of departure for further research in his Food of France.

Once you've decided on a region, you can hone down to a town or a place that seems interesting or particularly rich. Virtual visits the tourist bureaus of various towns and communes to see what they have to say about the local gastronomy are often fruitful for setting out in any particular direction looking for interesting dishes. There are plenty of little nuggets of information that you can then research more closely. If you do get a chance to go, like Ptipois says, the little locally produced books are a wealth of information.

Background research is important. Before I do any traveling, I go to library reading rooms and find all the little books that have been put out in the past about the cuisine of a region, in French, especially older ones. Common sense judgement on source becomes much easier once this is done. I try to uncover a sampling over time, because as you go back over the profusion of pretty picture books put out in the past 35 years, you see that many recipe books adapt their recipes to be more "health conscious" - tips and tricks to sap out any "unnecesary use of fat" which can really corrupt the results and cloud the terrain quite a bit. The further back you look, the more likely you are going to be able to get a clear idea of how the local cuisines evolved before the info explosion, explaining the use of certain terminology or sometimes certain ingredients, and giving you a nice foundation to work on. Once you slog through this step, you'll see that you'll be able to focus much more clearly and judge for yourself when a recipe is a good one.

I am interested to check out the 'Euroterroirs' collection - I think I will check that out in the next week, thanks for that information.

Don't forget the actual visit and taste... Trumps all other methods - although the background work can do wonders in helping you get the most from your visit. There's something to be said for being able to ask the right questions, or to prove you actually have more than a trivial interest in a certain dish - This more than anything else can open doors.

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This is all very good advise, thank you all.

Lucy- the tourist bureau idea is very good and not something that I would have thought of doing on line. After my trip to Lithuania I decided that next time I travel to a region where I don't speak the language, that I would hire a translator to help me out at the local markets, but the on-line idea is very good.

I also have a couple of good French friends, one from Bordeaux and one from the Dauphine. These are obviously another good source of information.

I think that rather then try to cover too much in a superficial way, prehaps it would be better to concentrate on a specific region for a while. After all there are many recipes within a region and they vary a great deal from village to village.

I will have a think about what region to look at in detail, but at the moment I am thinking of looking at The Centre (Limousin to Bourbonnais, Berry to Cantal) as this region is a bit of a unknow to me.

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OK, this is my first effort.

Choucroute de navets a'la Colmar

From whence comes this particular recipe? I'm always looking for ways to convert the turnip haters & this looks fabulous!

Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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OK, this is my first effort.

Choucroute de navets a'la Colmar

From whence comes this particular recipe? I'm always looking for ways to convert the turnip haters & this looks fabulous!

As the name suggest, the recipe is from Colmar, which is the major city in the best wine producing country in Alsace. Or to be more exact, it is in the valley and the wine producing villages are up in the hills. In my mid-20's I backpacked around the wine producing regions of France, and the village in Alsace I really wanted to visit was Ribeauville. In the middle of december there are only a few local trains per day to the Ribeauville station from Colmar. This train I managed to catch, unfortunately the Ribeauville station is in the valley, some miles away from village it self. So I walked into town and as it was -15.C I nearly froze solid in the end. However, the food I ate in the tavern there is some of the best I had on that trip.

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Lets go to the Limousin! 

Shall we start in Limoges?  :smile:

OK then. The regional dishes I know from this area are; farcidure, madeleines, broccana, clafoutis, brejauna, some hare dishes, canard a l'aigre-doux, numerous beef dishes. This is from the books I have on hand, I will do some more research on the area and list others

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lovely choucroute de navets!

i recently had an excellent version in......new york city! it was at artisanal restaurant, and really was wonderful. i've been dying to make it ever since.

the turnips in question are rutabagas, are they not? (the colour of the photo looked more like swede than turnip, and my choucroute was definately made from rutabaga though referred to as navet).......(turnips are turnips, but swedes--aka rutabagas--are called swedes in England?). anyhow, the dish is probably deeeeelish whichever root--turnip or rutabaga/swede--you use.

Marlena

Marlena the spieler

www.marlenaspieler.com

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Yes I used swedes/rutabaga as the type we get in Scotland are very large and sweet, so better for this recipe then the white turnip which can be quite bitter (the local ones that is). Also "Swedes" are called "Turnips" (or even "Neeps") in Scotland, so I can get away with the subsitute on a linguisitic basis also. :wink:

It really is a wondrful dish and I would recomend it for any rich meat dish, especially duck, goose and pork.

A recipe can be found in Anne Willan's excellent "French Regional Cooking".

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Shall we start in Limoges?  :smile:

OK then. The regional dishes I know from this area are; farcidure, madeleines, broccana, clafoutis, brejauna, some hare dishes, canard a l'aigre-doux, numerous beef dishes. This is from the books I have on hand, I will do some more research on the area and list others

I'll add some detail to Adam's list:

Farcidure: balls of dough (which I could say might be like dumplings) made with buckwheat flour, sorrel, and beets which are wrapped in cabbage leaves. (as described by Waverly Root.) These are often found in the local soups. They also do one with potatoes. Worth some looking into.

Madeleines: Those lovely little cakes we know and love.

Broccana, meat paté made with veal and ground pork.

Soupe Brejauda, a cabbage bacon soup.

clafoutis to which a thread has been devoted already in the France forum - click!

A hare dish: Lievre en chabessal - otherwise known as Lievre a la royale, (according to Larousse?) but I can't understand how truffles and fois gras made their way into this list of simple country dishes... :blink: Unless it has been imported from the neighboring Perigord....

Canard a l'aigre-doux which has a sauce that has a mix of acid and sugary flavors, will research the recipes.

And I'll add Canetons limousins which I cannot find a recipe or reference anywhere except Larousse here at home. The library opens tomorrow.

The limousin Beef Dishes, to which I begin with a local Pieds de veau farci

We should not forget the bounty of fresh water fish, trout, carp, perch, brochet.

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Not a cookbook and the descriptions are brief, but most areas of France seem to get their own little blurb in LaRusse, listing characteristsic dishes, wines and traditions. For less-famous regions, it strikes me a s good place to start.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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