Keeping a gratitude journal has changed my life. I recommend it to all our Mindful Meditation Retreat guests- we discuss how and why one should keep a gratitude journal during our writing meditation sessions. I have also written a blog post about how to do it that you can read by CLICKING HERE and I keep an online Gratitude Diary on Pinterest. (see below).
Writing a daily list of 10 things that one is grateful for can become a bit monotonous when one always lists more or less the same things, so I like to choose a theme for each list. Today’s theme is food. Food is very important to the French (of course it is). It is for this very reason, and because our region offers such wonderfully decadent and delicious gastronomic delights, that we have decided to feed both our guests’ bodies and minds on our retreats – so no starvation diet if you come on one of our Mindfulness Meditation Retreats here in the south of France. You can read more about the food and wine our guests enjoy on retreat by CLICKING HERE.
The 10 types of food of our region that I am most grateful for today are:
This is a delicious, hearty and filling soup, made with fresh seasonal ingredients in the winter. It is often offered steaming hot at no extra charge at lunchtime to guests in restaurants, at the start of the day’s 12 euro menu, before the first course. I have a pot full on the stove most days during the winter.
2. Confit de Canard
Gascony is duck country. A confit de canard is basically preserved duck legs in duck fat, usually sold in tins, that can be kept for many months. When needed, the duck legs are removed and then baked/grilled to remove the extra fat. Even so, it is an extremely rich dish, often served with crisp matchstick frites and green beans from Tarbes (haricots tarbais).
3. Magret de Canard
Magret de canard is the breast from a duck raised for its liver, or foie gras, and it’s usually cooked like a steak — seared, finished with a few minutes in the oven, and served medium-rare, often with a slightly sweet honeyed sauce and/or fruit, to counteract the fattiness of the meat.
The Spanish border is less than 2 hours’ drive from us and our region has been influenced by this proximity in various ways, including gastronomically. Paella is a Spanish dish that consists mainly of rice, flavoured by saffron, with chicken, sausages, seafood, etc. added and cooked and served in a large shallow pan.
5. Croustade aux Pommes
This is a classic Gascon dessert: crisp, paper-thin sheets of phyllo dough are wrapped around tender caramelised and brandied (with Armagnac) apples. A delightfully light end to many a heavy Gascon meal!
This is a classic rich and hearty stew, cooked in many parts of France, especially in the south of France and definitely in Gascony, made with inexpensive beef braised in Madiran wine, fresh seasonal vegetables, garlic and herbs, usually fresh too. It is traditionally cooked in a daubière, a braising pan, in November and then preserved for use during the winter in glass bottles.
7. Salade de Gésiers
This is a wonderfully filling salad, often served as a main course, made of dark green salad leaves, potatoes, walnuts, duck gizzards and vinaigrette. An acquired taste, admittedly, but definitely worth trying with the freshest and crispiest Frech bread you can get hold of.
8. Mélons de Lectoure
Only available when in season, these sweet and juicy bright orange melons are often served with Jambon de Bayonne as a first course or an amuse-bouche. Absolutely divine. Wish it was melon season now!
9. Hard Cheese made from sheep’s milk (fromage de brébis). This addictive cheese is made from the milk of sheep that spend their summers high in the Pyrenées mountains and their winters in the valleys below. Twice a year all traffic has to stop for the bi-annual transhumance when the sheppards guide their sheep with the help of their Pyrenean Mountain dogs up or down the mountain.
10. Cèpes Soup and Cèpes Omelettes
Cèpes are mushrooms found fresh in the woods here in October and November (if you should know where in the woods they grow, you keep the information strictly to yourself!), but also dried year round as it retains its flavour very well. The cèpe mushroom is so tasty that many commercial mushroom products contain this mushroom as flavouring.
If you would like to know more about Gascony, you can CLICK HERE to read about it or visit my Gascony! Pinterest board.
This post is part of the MJP Gratitude Challenge and the Ten Things of Thankful Challenge (#10Thankful). If you click on either of these links, you will find several more similar posts to read and you may even decide to add one yourself. This polished and updated version of this post is, as from today, the 25th of February 2016, also part of Diane at PartTimeMonster.com’s #Throwback Thursday Party.