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.

Autumn’s Bounty


Whilst the weather is still more like August than October the autumn produce is available everywhere. People can be seen stopped at the side of every road collecting the walnuts and chestnuts that have fallen. The apples look wonderful and we’ve had just enough rain to produce the famous Aveyronaise mushrooms. But with the mild weather there are still plenty of melons, tomatoes and even strawberries around.

What’s also great is that everyone gets involved young and old; yesterday for example a friend of my son’s rang up to see if he wanted to go collecting chestnuts, pretty sure that sort of thing wasn’t on the agenda when I was 13!

This is not an area that naturally supports cereals or large scale cattle farming so the relevant holes in the diet have been filled by other things.

Chestnuts have always been an important part of the diet around here, supplying flour, and used in soups and cakes. Walnuts provide oil as well as being eaten in cakes, salads and au nature. Apart from the walnut oil, pigs, ducks and geese also provide fats for cooking and preserving. Traditionally cheese comes from sheep or goat milk, although this is changing these days.

A salad that is popular around here is : lettuce(something substantial in the endive style) with croutons, warm gesiers, walnuts, crumbled Roquefort cheese, and a vinaigrette made with walnut oil.

Walnut skordalia is similar to a pesto-ground walnuts and olive oil blend to form this magical paste.


  • 1 cup of walnuts (shells removed and dry roasted on a hot pan for 5 minutes)
  • 1 cup of day old stale bread with the crusts removed-I used wholemeal sourdough
  • 4 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 2-3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • 1/4-1/2 a cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


Take your bread and dip it into some water-remove it immediately and squeeze out all the excess water.

Place the bread, garlic, dry roasted walnuts and red wine vinegar in a food processor and blend until it resembles fine bread crumbs or meal

With the food processor still running start adding your olive oil in a thin stream until a fine paste forms. (be wary not to add too much oil here)

Add salt and pepper to taste, mix well and transfer to another bowl.

Drizzle with a little olive oil on top