Cassoulet. “We’re going to eat Cassoulet today,” Sergio said excitedly our first morning in Toulouse. “It’s a traditional dish in the south of France.” Knowing next to nothing about Cassoulet or the difference between Southern and Northern French cuisine, I, naturally was curious.
We hoped in the car and headed to a restaurant 30 minutes outside of Toulouse to try the infamous Cassoulet. We passed by more McDonald’s than I could count and I regretted not snapping photos as proof, surprised France would allow such an abomination of food to be so readily available, even in what seemed to be small towns.
Arriving in the town at 2 in the afternoon, it appeared to be a ghost town. No one was outside. Just like siesta hours in Spain. When we entered the restaurant, everyone was happily eating. This is where everyone is!
Handed menus when we sat down, I immediately felt the feeling of what it’s like to not know a language. Shoot. I didn’t brush up on a few basic expressions and I felt mute. But there wasn’t an issue, between knowing we were going to try the with their speciality- Cassoulet- and a bottle of wine to share, and the waiter who spoke enough English, we ordered with ease. Speaking una mezcla de Inglés and Español, other tables seemed to exchange glances at us as we happily awaited our meal. I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Cassoulet is a cassorole, a dish made with a mix of meats and white beans. The meat that is used is dependent on the region in France and whose cooking. Our Cassoulet was a mixture of duck and sausage, white beans and adorned with bread crumbs baked on top.
I dug in. My first time sampling duck and was it tasty.
Though if you didn’t tell me what type of meat it was, I don’t know if I would have known.
Meat and beans is traditional in a lot of cultures but is not something I typically cook or eat. After several bites, I felt heavy and slow. Lethargic. I glanced over and noticed Sergio and his friend Victor were nearly half way through, while I was taking a break.
“Well, this is a heavy meal, perfect for really cold weather to keep you warm,” Sergio said. No doubt, this type of food will warm you up, if it doesn’t make you curl up go to sleep first.
But I kept eating because it tasted good and I was taught from an early age, good food shouldn’t go wasted.
I couldn’t finish the Cassoulet.
And I was grateful I didn’t because I felt stuffed and lethargic all afternoon and till the wee hours of the morning.
My advice for Cassoulet- eat when you’re really hungry and when you’re really cold to help warm you up. And when you don’t have much to do so, if you feel like it you can curl up and take a nap.
But I did make space somehow for desert. I don’t know how. Thankfully what I ordered was light and delicious. I wasn’t quite sure what I was ordering as I played the game of I think I know what these combination of French words mean…