Languedoc-Roussillion (not forgetting the Midi-Pyrénées and Aquitaine) are the regions of France most settled by English expatria...
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Languedoc-Roussillion (not forgetting the Midi-Pyrénées and Aquitaine) are the regions of France most settled by English expatriates. Caroline Conran has spent much time there since the early 1970s and her collection of recipes reflects years of travel, conversation, cooking, eating and drinking. Hhere she concentrates upon this single region of Languedoc which curls up from the Spanish border, along the Mediterranean coast as far as the Rhône valley. This is not polite France, this is 'in your face' France; it's history buried amidst the Crusades and Cathars, its towns and cities - Nimes, Toulouse, Carcassonne, Narbonne, Perpignan, Montpellier, Beziers - making up a fiercely independent region. Its people are passionate about rugby, about hunting and foraging, with a cuisine of their own, more Southern, simpler, more earthy, and less influenced by the Michelin style of cooking than the rest of France. There is information on the particular specialities of the pays, such as chestnuts, sweet onions, Bouzigues mussels and oysters (shellfish reared in the Bassin de Thau), salt cod, poufres (baby octopus), charcuterie, salades sauvages (salads of wild plants), the rose coloured garlic of Lautrec, wild asparagus and local mushrooms. There will be descriptions of places where oysters, truffles, chestnuts or calçots - a giant spring onion, eaten roasted on a fire of vine-prunings - are the obsession of everyone in the community. Caroline Conran is a writer with a quiver of successful books in her armoury.
Caroline Conran has loved food and cooking throughout her life. As an art-school leaver with literary ideas, she found work first on House and Garden, then Queen magazine, Nova, and the Sunday Times - introducing her readers to The Real Bread Campaign, self-sufficiency (smoke your own kippers) and the three-star chefs of the Nouvelle Cuisine, whose books she translated and edited. With Michael Bateman she brought out the Sunday Times Bread Book, and with Oliver Gillie, The Sunday Times Guide to the World's Best Food. Her own books include Poor Cook, written with Susan Campbell, and still used by the children and grandchildren of the book's first readers, and the Conran Cookbook, which sold over a million copies. She has had one foot in France since 1972, and is currently the happy owner of a converted cloth mill in Saint-Chinian, a small wine town in the Languedoc.