Knowing where your food comes from
Le Marche, Terroir and the AOC
Posted by Mark Armstrong 29th May 2013
"1 in 2 French people regularly buy local produce because the attachment to a particular region and its soil still has real meaning" (A recent quote from Monty Don on his BBC TV programme French Gourmet Gardens.)
One of the pleasures of visiting France is to enjoy wandering through a traditional French market. Le marche is an integral part of life in most French towns and large villages such as Sarlat in the Dordogne and Montbrun Les Bains in the Baronnies. In the UK, farmers' markets have resurged relatively recently, but in France, traditional fruit and vegetable markets have always remained a part of life.
The concept of knowing where your food comes from is important in France.
AOC (Appelation d'origine controlee)
Translating as "controlled designation of origin", the AOC is the French certification granted to certain geographical indications for a variety of agricultural produce, based on the concept of terroir. The Jura is known for 2 of France’s best known cheeses: Comte and Morbier. Comte received AOC status in 1958 and Morbier is one of our personal favourites. In 1981, the AOC label was given to Haute-Provence Lavender Essential Oil and concerns only the essential oil of fine lavender. In 1994 Olive oil from Nyons was the very first olive oil in France to be awarded AOC status. The oil from the Tanche olive has a slightly nutty flavour, and makes an excellent ingredient in dressings and for cooking traditional Provence dishes. Le Puy en Velay Lentils were the first French foodstuff, other than wine or cheese, to be awarded AOC. They are grown on the mountain plateau around Le Puy en Velay in the Haute Loire region, which has a unique climate and rich volcanic soil in which the lentils thrive. Also in the Auvergne, a local beef meat, Fin Gras du Menzec, has been recognised by an AOC label. The quality of this French beef comes from the mountain grass which has not been overly enriched and which contains alot of aromatic plants, with fine and slender grass. Many AOC products can be sampled on our Walking and Cycling Holidays in France.