It would be sacrilege to be in Toulouse and not try the cassoulet. This bean stew is without a doubt the most emblematic dish of the city, and it comes in a variety of recipes. Although the most famous recipe consists of beans and charcuterie, Toulouse cassoulet contains beans and duck; though you can replace the duck with sausage. If you would like to expand your knowledge on cassoulet (and please your belly), be sure to go to Castelnaudary, the birthplace of cassoulet.
The saucisse de Toulouse (Toulouse sausage) requires a rather rigorous process to be made. It’s made mostly of lean meat, is medium in size, and is recognizable for its pink, slightly reddish color. Although it’s mainly served with cassoulet, there are other ways to try it, such as with roasted potatoes or French fries, or go for a braised sausage with vegetables—it’s simply delicious.
While it is recommended you go to the Occitanie region for the best duck foie gras, if you are in Toulouse you must try (and bring back home if you can) some goose liver. Goose meat is much appreciated, but goose foie gras is becoming more and more popular in France and abroad for its taste, which is more delicate than duck foie gras.
Although you can find decent confit de canard (duck confit) in many parts of France, Toulouse and its surrounding areas are where you’ll want to indulge in one of France’s finest dishes. In the traditional recipe, all the parts of the duck are used and salt-cured before being cooked in the meat’s fat in order to obtain that fantastic taste and tender texture.
Aside from meat dishes, the region has plenty of confectioneries. The fénétra is a traditional cake that you won’t want to miss. This mouthwatering delight is made from almond shortbread, apricots, and candied lemons. This traditional wonder can be found only in patisseries.
After walking around the city, why not take a break and treat yourself to a tarte aux noix (nut pie)? Ideal for dessert or with afternoon tea, it’s a yummy specialty you’ll discover in the Ville Rose. You can eat it plain or try it with ice cream. Enjoy!
The garbure is another typical Toulouse dish you’ll no doubt enjoy, especially on the colder days. Initially created by highlanders to stay warm during the winter, it is a soup that mixes different types of meats and vegetables. The ingredients follow the seasons, which ensures its vivifying and energizing properties all year long. In order to enhance the taste, duck confit or pork knuckle are frequently added. The secret for a good garbure is in its slow cooking; the longer the better. People don’t hesitate to let it simmer for several days before serving it.
Made with bread, eggs and pork meat, the bougnette is a handmade, 400-gram fritter. Once cooked, it looks like a small, golden ball. You can eat bougnette only in the Tarn region, famous for specializing in salted and pork-based food.
You will probably come across these metal, round, yellow boxes of black licorice during your trip to Toulouse. Made in 1880 by the pharmacist Léon Lajaunie, initially it had a medicinal purpose, but with time people started to chew it the same way people chew on tobacco. While Cachou Lajaunie is now the property of the Kraft Group, cachou candy is still considered to be part of Toulouse’s culinary legacy.
Used as a seasoning in some meals, pastries and candies, there are also dishes and drinks that come from the violet flower. Violet jam and jelly are well-known in Toulouse, but you should also try the syrup and violet liquor. A true emblem of Toulouse’s gastronomy, the city celebrates the violet each year in February.
If you like pork, you will certainly enjoy some porc noir Gascon (black pork from Gascon), a variety of pork that’s not easy to find but is worth the hassle of tracking it down. Ask locals where to find quality porc Gascon, or go to the market where a handful of merchant sell this excellent product.