For the first school vacation, I decided to visit Toulouse in the hopes of exploring the regional culinary specialities of the midi-Pyrénées region of southwest France.
Of course, there’s the famous heartier dishes such as cassoulet (meat and bean stew), confit de canard, and Toulouse sausage. But what really caught my attention was the markets bursting with fruits and vegetables. My favorite was the Victor Hugo covered food market, which serves as the gastronomic heartbeat of Toulouse. Every morning, we made our way to the market densely populated with tourists and locals alike. Weaving between the vendors and hungry customers, we visited our go-to fruit, dairy, and bread stands for the most succulent clementines from Spain, thick yogurt from Normandy, hearty slices of grainy artisan bread, and some roasted almonds to fuel us throughout the day. Coming in at less than 4 euros every morning, I was a very happy customer.
The traditional regional specialties were complemented by various seasonal options. From butternut squash soup to seasonal vegetable focacia to hearty salads, dinner every night was a welcome reminder that the farm-to-table movement never left France and is still as strong as ever.
When it came to my sweet tooth, Toulouse certainly didn’t disappoint. It seemed like everywhere we turned, there were sweet shops overflowing with biscuits, tea, confit fruit, chocolate, and SO much nougat.
Toulouse is referred to as la ville rose thanks to the pink terracotta bricks around the city, but when it comes to dessert, Toulouse is definitely la ville violet. The violet flower was introduced to France in the middle of the 19th century by Napoleon III. Nowadays, violets are cultivated in greenhouses from November to March. In addition to serving as a symbol of peace, sweetness, and modesty, the flower possesses medicinal properties and is thought to aid breathing and calm headaches. The Toulousian violet can be found in traditional bouquets, perfume, syrup, candies and, my personal favorite, macarons.