The Lot and Garonne offers local cuisine with great flavours. This rural departement is one of the top producers of fruit and vegetables in the southwest. Cooking has an important role in this area. The 19th-century French writer, Stendhal, described the departement as a “French Tuscany”. The inhabitants have a pleasant life with good food. It is the dream department for any epicurean.
The culinary variety is showcased through the local products. The art of eating well contributes to the gastronomic reputation of this southwest region.
The Agen prune, with its Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), is without doubt the local star of the area. It has been eaten since the 18th century. The plum variety used is purple in colour and is called “Ente". This plum retains all the properties of the fruit (fibre, carbohydrate, magnesium, vitamin E) once it is dried. The ripe fruit is harvested at the end of the summer and dried. The Agen prune has a mellow taste. It can be eaten as it is or added to sweet or savoury dishes. It is used in desserts. It can also be soaked in brandy. The Grand Pruneau show, the first weekend of September, takes place each year with more than 30,000 people attending; Saint-Aubin also celebrates the prune in the second weekend of September.
Just as famous at the Agen prune is the Marmande tomato. This is a fleshy, mid- sized, red pulped, flavoursome, juicy, sugary tomato with a distinct flavour. Its production in the Marmande basin is due to the phylloxéra, a disease which destroyed many vines in 1863. It is an early variety and can be found in the markets at the beginning of the summer. Raw or cooked, the tomatoes are used in many culinary dishes, mixing beautifully with different ingredients. To shock your taste buds, a Marmande brewer produced a beer flavoured with tomato. Each year, at the end of July, the town celebrates this symbolic fruit during the "Tomato fiesta".
*Protected geographical indication (PGI) : The protected geographical indications (PGI) identify an agricultural product, raw or processed, whose quality, reputation or other characteristics are linked to its geographical origin.
This departement is also heaven for strawberry lovers. The Garriguette is the best known variety. Asparagus is also cultivated on the Marmande hillsides. Marmande celebrates the strawberry the third weekend of May. Cancon is the halzelnut capital.
In the Lot and Garonne, foie gras is also very much enjoyed by the foodies and gourmets. Foie gras can be found in markets or on the farms of the local producers.
On the meat side, the beef breed, “la blonde d’Aquitaine”, has tender, tasty meat. In 1987 the farmers of the region created the Label Rouge* 'bœuf blond d’Aquitaine' in order to credit their product.
*Label Rouge (Red label) certifies that a product has a specific set of characteristics establishing a superior level of quality to that of a similar product.
The department also produces AOC wines*. The Côte de Brulhois, produced since the One Hundred Years War, is a robust wine with character and a dark colour. It is perfect served with game, duck or cheese. Buzet-sur-Baïse is the capital of another wine produced locally: the buzet, which is red, balanced and fruity, it is best served with magrets (duck) or rabbit with prunes. The region of Duras also produces wine. Recently associated with the wines of Bergerac, there are three types: a light white wine, a zesty red and a rosé.
You can also taste, on the borders of Les Landes and Gers, in the Pays d’Albret, the famous Armagnac. This is a brandy made from the distillation of dry white wines matured in oak barrels, providing colour and flavour.
* The appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC; French pronunciation "protected designation of origin") is the French certification granted to certain French geographical indications for wines, cheeses, butters and other agricultulrual products, all under the auspices of the government bureau (Institut National de l’origine et de la qualite).
Photo Buzet vineyards
On the dessert side, we love the “tourtière de Penne d’Agenais”, with prunes or apples flavoured with Armagnac. This pastry is made from many fine layers of buttered sweet dough like puff pastry. Delicious!
The tourtière is a good excuse for a lot of folkloric events in many towns, especially in Penne-d’Agenais (the second Sunday of July), where the producers of the region present their tourtière to a jury, and also in Tournon-d’Agenais in August.