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Trekking in the Pyrenees

Trekking in the Pyrenees

Excerpt:
Eating and Drinking - Pyrenean Style


Contents List | Introduction | Route options | Planning your trek | Eating and Drinking - Pyrenean Style | Sample Trek


One of the greatest pleasures of walking in the Pyrenees is the chance to sample a variety of French and Spanish food. Pyrenean cuisine is generally simple, delicious and very filling – preparing people for the strenuous mountain lifestyle.

Throughout the Pyrenees, meals often start with a thick and filling soup, with huge hunks of potato and other vegetables. In France this soup is known as garbure. A plate of charcuterie (cold meats, usually served with some salad) is another excellent way to start a meal and to taste some of the delicious locally- made saucisson (sausage). Main courses are generally meat or fish. In France, poulet Basquaise, chicken in a thick dark sauce, is a favourite in the western Pyrenees. Piperade, a tangy mixture of tomatoes, onions, peppers and garlic may be served with pork or chicken, or in an omelette. Another traditional dish is boudin – black pudding sausages which are often served with cooked apple chips.

In Spain, sausages are also common; in the Valle d�Aran, spicy butifarra sausage is a speciality. The Spanish are also keen on stews – huge, filling and generally made with lamb or chicken. In the same area, one of the more unusual dishes is to try izard (a relative of the chamois); the dark, strong-tasting meat is served up in a thick wine sauce. Mountain trout is very popular on both sides of the Pyrenees and is guaranteed absolutely fresh from the nearest river or lake.

The other food trekkers are likely to eat frequently is cheese. Fromage de brebis, made from ewe's milk, can often be bought from shepherds themselves, who make it in their huts, high on the mountain side.

DRINK

The quality of Pyrenean wine varies greatly – try them all in order to discover one you like. From the table wines of Irrouleguy in the Basque country to the sweet aperitif wine produced in Banyuls on the Mediterranean coast, there should be something here to satisfy everybody.

Beer is reasonably priced and just the thing after a hot day's walking. The French tend to stick to beers such as Pelforth, Amstel and Kronenbourg – try Pelforth Brune if you like dark beer. The Spanish have several brews worth trying from the ubiquitous San Miguel to Estrella Damm and others.

There is an array of local aperitifs and digestifs, from Izarra in the Basque country to Ratafia in the Valle d�Aran.

Trekking in the Pyrenees

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