|Food & Drink in Dordogne, France|
|The Dordogne is a culinary delight, with many local specialties including fois gras, confit de canard and truffles.|
Dining in France is a big part of the cultural experience...at least that's how I justify that pastry or this cheese or that local specialty.
Duck Duck Goose
France is known for its food, and the Dordogne region (also called by its historic name, Périgord) is acknowledged as one of the most important food regions of France. The cuisine is often based on duck or goose. You can have magret de canard, or duck breast, with a variety of sauces.
There's also confit de canard, which might also be called cuisses de canard (legs of duck), where the duck legs are slow cooked and preserved in fat, then fried in the fat (and usually served with delicious potatoes also fried in the fat). The same dish may be prepared with goose, confit d'oie. You'll find them on all restaurant menus in this region, and they're definitely worth trying.
Fois Gras & Truffles
Foie gras, or fat liver, is another specialty. Although there is some controversy over the force-feeding of the ducks and geese, foie gras remains a delicacy that you will see frequently. It's served in a variety of ways, from a simple slice to types that are cooked in different ways, to paté de foie gras.
Foie gras is sometimes topped with truffles, another regional specialty. Black Périgord truffles tend to grow near oak and other trees, which are plentiful in the area. These highly-prized mushrooms are very expensive and used sparingly to add flavor to dishes.
If you enjoy fois gras and confit de canard, and if your suitcase has room, you can buy cans of them to bring home. All Dordogne towns have regular markets where you can buy these products (as well as a variety of fresh foods) and in places like Sarlat specialty shops abound.
Although cassoulet originated a bit farther south in Languedoc, you'll often find it on menus in the Dordogne/Périgord region. A rich hearty white bean stew that includes confit de canard as well as several forms of pork, it's best enjoyed in cool weather.
Cheese & Walnuts
Goat cheese, called cabécou, is a specialty of the area around Rocamadour. Often served with salads, it's one of my favorites. Many other cheeses are made and sold in the region as well. And in the markets you'll find plenty of variety of hams, sausages, and other pork products.
The Dordogne is also known for its many walnut trees, and you'll find walnut cake on many restaurant menus.
This is France—what about wine? The area around Bergerac, in the southern part of the Dordogne, is known as Périgord Pourpre, or purple Périgord, in honor of the large number of vineyards. Périgord wines are less known than their more famous cousins in Bordeaux or Burgundy, but there are some delicious ones to try as you experience the cuisine of the Dordogne.
After a few days in the Dordogne eating rich foods, you may well be ready for a break. You can find other dishes, such as chicken or beef, as well as pasta or an omelette, on most menus. For lunch, many places serve salades composées, salads topped with a variety of meats and cheeses that can be a complete meal (and get you some vegetables!) You could also pick up some local ham, cheese, bread, fruit, and wine at a market and make a picnic. And don't forget the olives—though choosing which ones you want can be a challenge!