In many ways, moving to deepest South West France feels a bit like we have time travelled back to the Fifties. All the things I took for granted back in the UK are yet to happen, such as home delivery, dinner being delivered via Deliveroo, Waitrose and yet, generally, I am perfectly happy.
There is one area though, where France is lagging behind. Far from being the flavour of the era, as in the UK, Vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians are, in the main, not even a consideration when it comes to lunching out.
Here is a typical experience.
I will have rung beforehand, just to gauge whether the restaurant feels able to deal with my quirk of being a non meat eater. When I arrive, the message either never got through, or wasn’t understood (my French is still fairly basic) and I will be treated to an eye roll, then will be offered an omelette. This is my typical experience.
I have, however, had a wonderful lunch at La Comedie, in Auch, where there were four choices for each course, one of which was fishy, one of which was veggie. It was a bustling, busy bistro, with a distinct Parisian vibe ). I also, on your behalf, took a trip to Planete Veggie in Lannemazan and felt instantly at home. I recognised all the ingredients being used ( chia seeds, soya chunks, coconut cream for example) and could relax, understanding completely what I was eating.
My conclusion is this; eating out for lunch in a typical auberge, is not something we can do. And, I’m alright with this.
La Comedie, Auch
La Brasserie, Mirande
It is easier to find somewhere to eat out in the evening, just because there is a bigger choice. I will just name check La Brasserie in Mirande. Its legendry! It’s a fish restaurant, but….they will happily offer a vegetarian/vegan alternative if you ring them before hand. The vibrant art on the walls alerts you instantly that you are eating out in somewhere that is pretty cosmopolitan and each mouthful you take will make you sigh with happiness!
A sure bet, when looking for somewhere that will offer good choices is to head to your nearest Indian or Chinese restaurant. We were having one of those nights where nothing was going well for us; we were a party of our son and his two friends and my husband and I. Storm clouds were breaking overhead, all the bars and restaurants seemed to be closing up in front of our eyes (it was aWednesday night in Auch) and we had promised the lads a good feed.
We sheltered in a doorway, quickly consulted Trip Advisor and within minutes, we were sitting in Everest, an Indian restaurant that we hadn’t ever noticed before. It was remarkable how easy it was to find something we could all eat, when you consider we had three pescitarians, one coeliac and one meat eater.
So, you might have noticed that the nights are drawing in and winter is coming? I thought I would share with a recipe for a cozy, very easy sit in front of TV kind of a dinner:
Pumpkin and Artichoke Dip
• pre heat the oven to 200 degrees C
• Take a medium size pumpkin, cut the top off and scoop out the insides.
• In a separate bowl, whizz together two cans worth of artichoke hearts (drain liquid first), 100g of grated parmesan (veggie if poss), 100g of mayonnaise, seasoning, two garlic cloves.
• Tip into pumpkin, replace the lid and place in oven for an hour.
• To serve, have nachos, sourdough bread chunks, cucumber, apple slices
I will look out my best Nut Roast recipes for my next blog. They are much maligned and parodied, but can be delicious, served with scrumptious gravy and roasted veg. I shall also present you with a delicious cocktail recipe, or pud…don’t forget to look out for my next blog.
Till then, happy munching,