The Midi-Pyrénées and Languedoc-Roussillon Feature
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Dining in France's Southwest is a rougher, heartier, and more rustic version of classic Mediterranean cooking—the peppers are sliced thick, the garlic and olive oil used with a heavier hand, the herbs crushed and served au naturel.
Expect cuisine de marché (market-based cooking), savory seasonal dishes based on the culinary trinity of the south—garlic, onion, and tomato—straight from the village market. Languedoc is known for powerful and strongly seasoned cooking.
Garlic and goose fat are generously used in traditional recipes. Be sure to try some of the renowned foie gras (goose or duck liver) and confit de canard (preserved duck). The most famous regional dish is cassoulet, a succulent white-bean stew with confit d'oie (preserved goose), duck, lamb, or a mixture of all three.
Keep your eyes open for festive cargolades—Catalan for huge communal barbecues starting off with thousands of buttery-garlic snails roasted on open grills and eaten with your fingers, followed by cured bacon and lamb cutlets and vats (and vats) of local wine. In the Roussillon and along the Mediterranean coast from Collioure up through Perpignan to Narbonne, the prevalent Catalan cuisine features olive-oil-based cooking and sauces such as the classic aioli (crushed and emulsified garlic and olive oil). When you're on the coast, it's fish, of course, often cooked over a wood fire.
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