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Is Gascony the Most Delicious Corner of France? (NYT article)

MichaelC

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
August 2017: Le Puy to Santiago
2019: Francigena? Piémont? Aragonés? Primitivo? I can't decide!
#1
This article from the New York Times popped up in my news feed this weekend: Is Gascony the Most Delicious Corner of France?

From the article: Look closely at a map of southwestern France and you’ll notice it: a blank spot just west of Toulouse where the place names thin out and the train lines and expressways veer away, like a stream flowing around a boulder. That blank spot is Gascony, one of the most rural regions in all of France ...

Gascony is not merely distinct from Provence and the Côte d’Azur. It is, in my estimation, better. Gascony is more open, more soulful, more deeply French, and, in its un-self-conscious devotion to tradition, more pleasurably frozen in time. Its cuisine is arguably less sophisticated than Provence’s, and yet it is more firmly rooted in the land it sprang from, and it is, I put to you, enjoyed with lustier abandon.


A lot of towns on the Camino get a mention: Lectoure, Larressingle, La Romieu, Montréal du Gers, Nogaro, Éauze, and Aire-sur-l’Adour were the ones I recognized.

And if the article captures the way we'll eat on the Chemin du Puy then I might end up just rolling myself up and over the Pyrenees into Spain ...
 

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JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
#2
Whilst I love the spirit of this article from your quotes, and Gascogne is indeed one of the top culinary regions in France ...

Gascony is ... more deeply French

erm, no, its particular identity comes among other things from being somewhat less French than the rest of France. The Gascons have always been fiercely independent, as perhaps most famously illustrated in the Three Musketeers and its first sequel, by Alexandre Dumas. They remain so today, and it is a great part of both their charm but also their aloofness and occasional lack of depth in relationships.

Also, neither the regional cuisine of Provence nor the Gascogne is particularly "sophisticated" -- it's rural rather -- nor is that of Gascogne more rooted in the land than that of Provence, with the caveat that Provence is more touristified (as the article explains) so that the genuine cuisine of the terroir is somewhat harder to find. Also, as far as cuisine is concerned, from a French point of view the Gascogne belongs to the broad category of Provençal cooking, including when the health benefits of the food of the South of France are mentioned. Historically, Gascony both has and has not belonged to Provence, though it was certainly part of the old Provincia Romana. It is not viewed as part of Provence today, though the links both cultural and historical are not denied.

It's a lovely article -- and the world that it describes, outside the particular locations, is the one typical of most of the Camino Ways from the Gironde valley and south, and from around Carcassone to the west. The cuisine described extends into the Landes, although the coastal Landes and the Pays Basque have different traditions, and the Gironde/Garonne valley has a mixed cuisine where the traditions of Gascony and those of the Bordelais compete, coexist, and combine.
 
Last edited:

MichaelC

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
August 2017: Le Puy to Santiago
2019: Francigena? Piémont? Aragonés? Primitivo? I can't decide!
#4
Whilst I love the spirit of this article from your quotes, and Gascogne is indeed one of the top culinary regions in France ...

Gascony is ... more deeply French

erm, no, its particular identity comes among other things from being somewhat less French than the rest of France. The Gascons have always been fiercely independent, as perhaps most famously illustrated in the Three Musketeers and its first sequel, by Alexandre Dumas. They remain so today, and it is a great part of both their charm but also their aloofness and occasional lack of depth in relationships.
I hate that travel-writing cliche (that someplace is more deeply authentic than another) - I can't believe it sailed right by me this time!

Meanwhile, I'm been looking for the perfect book to bring with me. Les trois mousquetaires would be a fun choice. Digitally, of course.

Also, neither the regional cuisine of Provence nor the Gascogne is particularly "sophisticated" -- it's rural rather -- nor is that of Gascogne more rooted in the land than that of Provence, with the caveat that Provence is more touristified (as the article explains) so that the genuine cuisine of the terroir is somewhat harder to find. Also, as far as cuisine is concerned, from a French point of view the Gascogne belongs to the broad category of Provençal cooking, including when the health benefits of the food of the South of France are mentioned. Historically, Gascony both has and has not belonged to Provence, though it was certainly part of the old Provincia Romana. It is not viewed as part of Provence today, though the links both cultural and historical are not denied.
Thanks for all this information. It's all fascinating. I've only been to the south of France once, and did manage to find some rustic Provençal places. I was surprised at how hearty and earthy it was compared to the tourist-oriented places.

No matter the ethnicity, the food is delicious.
Oh, I could take you to some places! I've worked in a few traditional communities where the diet is starch + starch + starch. It can be a challenge for outsiders.
 


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