It’s no secret that the Gauls had a penchant for good food. Asterix and Obelix demonstrated this delightfully in their grand gourmet tour all over France collecting regional delicacies: Camaracum Humbugs sweets, the fine wines of Durucortorum, fish stew from Massilia, Nicaean salad, prunes from Aginum, oysters and wine from Burdigala, etc. And, lest we forget, the purchase of some Lutèce ham.
On a recent trip to France, I decided to waste no time doing my own personal delving into the delights of the region. We’d been off carbs and sugar for five months and had no strategy for navigating the patisserie-lined boulevards of France. I have to confess, I may have baked and stashed a good supply of flaxseed crackers that I smuggled in. I was determined to be resolute. And creamy French fromage can work on any medium really.
Of course I had them beautifully stacked and wrapped in wax paper and a kraft box. There was some serious Provencal market ware to compete against and I didn’t want my flaxseed crackers looking like the fanny-packed tourist.
One foot onto the cobble-stoned streets of Uzes, Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and Nimes and all resistance crumbled. I felt Obelix’s pain. Gluttony was about to become my favourite sin. Tables braced themselves under the weight of tomatoes the size of an ox’s heart, cherries the size of golf balls, wheels of cheese of every colour and odour, sausage made of every beast, and mixture thereof. It was like the food version of a Jackson Pollock. Made even more delightful by the accompanying great oak barrels of Chateauneuf du Pape wine.
So as any self-respecting gourmande should do, I tucked in. And meals became a veritable feast. Pink speckled beans were scattered across purples leaves. Asaparagus was steamed and bathed in slathes of salted home spun butter. Coeur-du-boeuf tomatoes were sliced and nestled in between freshly picked basil leaves and juicy-fresh mozarella. Great big purple figs were stuffed with ripe Roquefort. We may have been missing a wild boar or two, but the meat-eaters safely satiated themselves on gnawing on a stick of wild boar and duck saucisson instead. Yes, market eating worked particularly well for us.
If the feast of the Gauls was not confined to an Asterix comic as an occasion for communal rejoicing, but indeed served to demonstrate the host’s wealth and social status, our week-long feast definitely hailed us as kings and queens of the HFLC (high fat low carb).