Food in Aveyron

logo MPPAs I have often in the past been quite rude about the local food, perhaps the time is right to redress the balance a little, after all credit is due to an area where people have always managed to make much out of very little (sometimes in more ways than one!)
I have already mentioned aligot, “the king of foods” as my brother has called it, a rib clinging mashed potato dish certainly designed to keep you going through a cold winters day. But the great advantage in Aveyron is the care and “heart” obvious in so much of the produce.

There are many small scale producers, the landscape, tradition and the shallow soil, has meant that large scale production has always been difficult and the lack of an efficient transport network led to a certain amount of insulation from the rest of France. This means that now there are lots of small producers still sticking to traditional methods and producing some great quality products.

There is a proliferation of “bio” (organic) suppliers and small farms producing local duck, goose and pork to make the traditional local dishes, all found at the “Marchés des Producters de  Pays”

Some enterprises have also got together to form  “Drive-Fermier”, where a variety of foods (pork, duck, ice cream, cheese…..) can be ordered on line direct from the producer and then picked up from a central point.

Specialities include Goose and duck confit, foie gras,  Estofinado, made with salted and dried cod “stockfish” Cheeses such as Bleu des Causses Laguiole,  Roquefort cheese or Cabecou (goat’s milk cheese) local wines, local honey,

En haut, Cyril Lignac à Villefranche l'an passé. À gauche : le fameux gâteau fabriqué au feu de bois.  Ci-dessus, la hauteur des pics fait la différence. /photos DDM, archivesCakes include Fouance, a bit like Madeira cake, gateau à la broche, a batter based cake cooked on a spit in front of the fire.

As well as an abundance of walnuts, chestnuts and mushrooms.

What a difference a decade makes, part 2

So, as I said in part 1, a decade ago the mornings looked a little different to how they look now!


6 get up; prepare son and self.

6.45 leave house and struggle through traffic to nursery

7ish (very ish, given the traffic variables!) have son dragged screaming from arms.

7.05 ish start drive to work, this was always the big variable! The drive, if done in the middle of the night, from St Albans to north Watford is 15 minutes, but given that the towns are on junctions of the M25, the M10, and the M1…….well what can I say, an average journey time of an hour, but you need to leave an 1 hour and a half to be sure.

? arrive at work, usually running and clutching my mobile, giving instructions, trying to avert the latest disaster caused by students or staff!

8.30 morning meeting

Teaching and admin and firefighting until 6/7 or 9.30 (if evening classes)

Fight way back home, dinner, marking, preparation, large amounts of wine, bed!


7.30 get up, (son, now 13 prepares himself! ), breakfast, leisurely shower, check Facebook.

8.35  leave for work on foot, going via chickens to let them out and collect eggs.

8.45 arrive at work, receive instructions

1.45  break (didn’t get one of those in UK!)

3.30 back to work

5  leave work!

How things have changed! Not only that but here are a few photos of the “commute”

P1020533P1000318  The village of BournazelP1000311Dawn over the fieldsP1030726 P1020663 Le chemin de l’écoleP1020593 0c4dc-p1020886

A Walk in the Woods


The wonderful weather continues, even if it is a little late in the day for the local tourist industry.

A walk in the woods is a delight. This time of year is always great for wild food but I have never seen so many medlars.

It appears to have been  bumper year for he wildlife as well and there is a group of 17 wild boar (a sounder apparently) at large, who have already severely injured 3 hunting dogs. (Although I do wonder which hunter had time to count them and still not succeed in shooting any!) Hunters are behind every tree, it can certainly make you jump when strolling thorough the woods to hear someone calling your name and then suddenly appear from behind a tree wielding a gun…

It also makes me smile when you’re driving to the baker’s on Sunday morning and greeted along the way by more gun-wielding men dressed in fluorescent jackets, certainly wouldn’t have happende in St Albans!

Another bonus at the moment are the glorious sunrises and sunsets, I am taking my camera with me everywhere, don’t want to miss another beautiful moment.

The Gastronome in Aveyron 1

Despite what I may say from time to time Aveyron can actually offer a lot to the lover of good food. there are some great restaurants and some great produce avaiable.

One of the first things that come to mind is “veau de Aveyron”. I often hear chefs on British TV saying that you can’t get rosée veal “on the continent” that dark land across the water! Well veau d’aveyron is one example of veal from calves raised with their mothers either outside or in large barns in bad weather, I see them happily gambolling (do calves gambol?) about whenever I go out. What’s more this is not new, I remember eating rosée veal in Auch 26 years ago. Below is the recipe taken from the official website.

Pour 4 personnes
> 700g de veau en morceaux (poitrine, collier
ou jarret)
> 2 verres de vin blanc
> 1 litre d’eau
> 1 gros oignon
> 3 carottes
> 30g de beurre
> 30g de farine
> 1 jaune d’oeuf
> sel, poivre
> 1 bouquet garni
Roti de veau, fond paysage segala  SAVEUR >  RECETTES

fleche Blanquette
de veau d’Aveyron et du Ségala
Mettre les morceaux de veau
dans une casserole et couvrir
d’eau froide. Porter à ébullition
et écumer.
Ajouter le vin blanc, le bouquet
garni, l’oignon émincé, les carottes
coupées en rondelles et assaisonner.
Porter à ébullition et cuire 1h30.
Égoutter la viande, dresser dans
le plat à service et tenir au chaud.
Faire un roux blond avec la farine
et le beurre, mouiller avec le jus de
cuisson et cuire 10 min. Lier avec le
jaune d’oeuf et verser sur la viande.
Faire réchauffer sans faire bouillir.
 Blanquette de veau d’Aveyron et du Ségala

temps de preparation 20 min
temps de cuisson 1h30

Pour une blanquette gourmande en texture et en goût, mélanger les morceaux avec et sans os, maigres et entrelacés.

Master baker

Something that Brits find when they get here is their sudden elevation in the baking stakes. It must be said that locally there is not a great tradition of cake making and the famous French patisserie is not in great evidence. Even in the bigger towns you have to search out anything that departs from the Aveyronnaise. I have a friend who is from Alsace; a region that combines the best of German and French cake making, who also bemoans the quality of the local offerings. So a simple victoria sponge gets great praise. Around here English baking has a great reputation, although many are still convinced that we have problems getting bread, unless it’s white sliced.


Local food based specialities include: fouace , an extra dry madeira style cake, served with white wine at morning events sometimes saved by the addition of yeast and therefore more like brioche. Soupe de fromage, which is a kind of mixed up savoury bread and butter pudding, tripoux, stuffed stewed tripe, tête de veau, slow cooked calve’s head (I actually quite like that one!). The last two are traditionally served at celebration breakfasts, and the soupe de fromage in the early hours of a party or wedding to keep you going.

Soupe de fromage




Bakers, even those also calling themselves patisseries have limited selections; for example mixed fruit tart, which is basically a tin of fruit salad on a pastry base, or the prune pasty…….why? This means though that in my middle years I have suddenly become a great cake maker!

Before people get the idea that Aveyron is a gastronomic desert, think again, because you can eat very well here. I’m already working on that for the next post!


Aveyron, Menhirs, dolmens


 The word menhir comes from a celtic language meaning long stone.

In Aveyron there are plenty of chances to see them in situ or in museums. Those shown here are in the Musée Fenaille in Rodez.




There are also many other forms of stone monuments, standing stones and tomb or dolmens in fact Aveyron has more than a 1000, many are on the “Causse” the beautiful limestone plateaus of the area which also boasts a wonderful array of wild flowers.






Photo credit: Musée Fenaille in Rodez.


“We’re killing a pig”

In the depths of the countryside nothing much happens. That being the case how come it’s so difficult to find a date when we can all get together for a meeting? As co-president of the Syndicat d’Initiative I’m involved in fixing the date for the annual general meeting, but here we are in April and we’ve been trying to sort a date since January, can’t be done. Apéro concert, hunters meal, late shifts, a funeral, library functions, elections, school meetings/functions and of course the perennial “we’re killing a pig” or more acruetly “one kills a pig that day”. This involves, these days,  someone qualified to kill the pig, and the extended family plus some neighbours to cut and process it followed by a meal. In north Aveyron many tradtions are alive and well, another one coming up thisyear on the 18th April is the great money spinner that is the school fundraising breakfast. Starting at 8 am and not for the faint hearted, it involves tête de veau (calves head) and tripoux (local stuffed trip dish) washed down with wine, and it is always packed. The rest of the day large numbers of red faced men stagger around the village kissing everyone! These days as a sop to the sensitivities of the “incomers” you can get “Parisienne” breakfast with croissants etc., but this has to be specially ordered in advance and you still have to eat it elbow to elbow with the chaps enjoying the more traditional eating experience! Can’t wait!


With the tempertures still well below 0, in Aveyron,  it makes you think about the people who lived here when central heating wasn’t an option. What they used was the “Ready Break” system. eating to keep warm. The traditional recipes  certainly aren’t for the faint hearted! Aligot is one of those recipes, not every day food if you’re not required to tend the livestock in below freezing temperatures,but great comfort food, the food of the gods one of my brothers called it at my birthday celebrations!

Serves 4:
1 kg of floury potatoes -500 g fresh tome-200 gr thick crème fraîche – 3 cloves garlic -30 gr lard or duckfat or butter, salt and pepper

Peel the potatoes and garlic cloves. Cut the potatoes into chunks and cook with garlic 20 minutes in boiling water.
Meanwhile, cut the fresh tome into small pieces.
When the potatoes are cooked, mash them adding a little cooking water to increase starch.
Over a low heat, stir in the cream, with a wooden spoon, then quickly add the cheese, stirring vigorously, now add the duckfat and seasoning (some people add a little nutmeg), now you need to keep stirring and lifting until the Aligot comes  away from the side of the pan and forms long ribbons.


1 kg of Bintje potatoes – 400 g fresh tome-200 gr thick crème fraîche – 1 or 2 cloves garlic – salt and pepper Peel the potatoes and garlic cloves. Cut the potatoes into chunks and cook with garlic 20 minutes in boiling water.
Meanwhile, cut the fresh tome thinly.
At the end of cooking remove the garlic, place the potatoes in ricer possibly adding a little cooking water for desired consistency.
Stir in the cream, stirring with a wooden spoon, then quickly Volume 400 grams of fresh, stirring vigorously to aerate the aligot that must spin at the end of the spatula to form a ribbon. We can, if desired, flavor still a whole clove of garlic crushed.