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Basque Cuisine Food In France Basque Cuisine

Basque Cuisine Food In France

As well as sharing some dishes with the rest of the Pyrenees, such as garbure, a thick soup made from potatoes, cabbage, beans and turnips, sometimes with pork or a confit d'oie or de canard added, Basque cuisine has some of its own specialities that are certainly worth a mention. A couple of staples are the red chillies that you will see hanging out to dry during the summer, and goose fat, which is used to cook everything from garbure to eggs.

Goose products such as fois gras and confit d'oie are popular, just as they are in the Dordogne (Périgord) region.

Salty ham from Bayonne, known as jambon de Bayonne, resembles Parma ham, but a cheaper alternative is jamón Serrano from Spain, which is more common on menus.

Wild doves are caught as they fly over the Pyrenees to migrate, and these are served as salmis de palombe, which means they have been lightly roasted and then simmered in a rich wine and vegetable sauce.

Three signature dishes in Basque cuisine all begin with the letter 'p'. Pipérade is an omelette with tomatoes, chillies and Bayonne ham mixed in so that it looks more like scrambled eggs. Piquillos are sweet red peppers stuffed with either morue (eel) or cabillaud (cod). Poulet basquaise, available as a takeaway at the local traiteur, is chicken browned in pork fat then casseroled in a tomato, chilli, onion and white wine sauce.

Cheeses made from ewe's milk up in the high Pyrenean pastures include tommes and gasna.

Fish, however, is possibly the most important staple in Basque cuisine. Around St Jean de Luz, tuna (thon), sea bas (bor), anchovies (anchois), and sardines are common. The Basque version of fish soup is called ttoro and is made with scampi, hake, eel or monkfish, and the ubiquitous sauce of tomatoes, chillies and white wine. Baby eels and trout are also seen on menus, as are the delicacies elvers or piballes from the Sargasso Sea. Squid (txipirones) is either served cooked in its own ink, or (surprisingly!) stewed in tomatoes, garlic, peppers and onions.

The region's most common dessert is the gateau basque, a flan pastry filled with creme patissiere and black cherries.

To wash down this local fare, choose a drinkable local wine such as Irouléguy, available as red, white or rosé, or the local cider txakolin. Izzara is the local green or yellow liqueur and is the perfect end to your feast.