A chicken stew in the French Pyrenees made the Guardian food writer fall in love with French cuisine all over again
Having spent every childhood holiday and whole summers of my 20s in France, I fancied I knew the place a little. I’d skidded down its mountains in winter, and done my time in the August jams on the autoroute du soleil – but when I set off to cycle around the country for a book a couple of years ago, I realised that I’d barely scratched the surface, especially when it came to food.
Of course, I was happily familiar with the big hitters like coq au vin and moules marinère, that represent French cuisine abroad, and I had more than a passing acquaintance with the powerful southern flavours of Provence. But much French regional cooking is far subtler – despite the popular stereotype, it wasn’t until I hit Marseille that I really tasted garlic.