I have just closed the account of this beautiful gastronomic journey through the South of France in search of the most authentic specialties, and I am under its spell! Yesterday evening, I watched a television programme which showed the landscapes of the Midi-Toulousain seen from the air, and I felt as if I were reliving the encounters described in ‘Menu from the Midi.’
Each chapter of your menu tackles a very different subject and reawakens old memories while addressing the present and the future of our existence in Occitanie, and even evoking the problem of feeding the world’s growing population.
It is with great emotion that I close this book, telling myself that my English may not have enabled me to capture the full depth and details of ‘Menu from the Midi.’ I must reread it, I must return to the dining room table and listen again to everything that the people in it communicate to us. Thanks to the book, they guide us through this journey to the very heart of gastronomic traditions with precision, dedication and even lyricism.
by Ginette Durand-Gorry
I am replete! Despite not having been able to visit France for the past two years or sample its culinary delights, I have eaten and drunk to the full in Colin's marvellous new book "Menu from the Midi". I know this corner of the world well and it was such a joy to taste again the flavours of rhe Occitan: Crémant de Limoux, Luques, purple Lautrec garlic, cassoulet, Château Guilhem organic rosé, Roquefort - I savoured them all on this gastronomic journey also learning a thing or two on the way! So great for these local producers to be acknowledged. Such a well researched book - I loved every page. Thank you Colin/Merci mille fois!
by Estella Archibald
For francophile anglophonic gastronomes, this is the book. Ideal Christmas present to give you ideas to decorate your table.
Following his more geo-political "Lauragais", Colin Taylor turns to the food of south-west France for inspiration, and a profound look at its history, development and current state. From an aperitif to the final digestif, the book will have you drooling - and who wouldn't salivate, with the startling pink garlic soup, a main course of roast pigeon and a roquefort cheese for those who like a bite.
by Tony Milne
This is a thoroughly delightful book , which will appeal to foodies , historians and francophiles as well as the general reader . I enjoyed immensely the ambience , the history, the research , the recipes and the reflections it encompassed. Carried along by the author , I felt I was back in the Midi , more fully appreciating what I already knew , and yet discovering new aspects and details ,
; as well as the challenges faced by those who love their land and its produce , and the challenges yet to come.
This is the thinking persons " foodie " book. It is to be savoured , reflected upon, and re-read many times over. I will be buying it for friends and family as well. Highly recommend.
by Birdaoir (Amazon review)
Another great read from Colin
Congratulations on another interesting and informative book. I thoroughly enjoyed this gastronomic journey from beginning to end, wishing I could be there to sample the menu along the way. Colin's knowledge and passion is truly evident in his writing and I admire the amount of time and research put into this well written and cleverly structured book.
I look forward to a glass of Armagnac on the terrace next time I am in France.
by Beverley Owens
I thought I knew a lot about French food – until I read this book and then I realised there’s much more to learn. Luckily, Colin Duncan Taylor is happy to impart his considerable knowledge on the topic. I had no idea that it was Catherine de Medici who introduced sorbets to France when she married the future King Henri II in 1533. That’s just one of the scintillating little factoids that the author uncovers in his quest to find out about mushroom hunters, pink garlic, Black Gascon pigs and more. The book is full of quotes and anecdotes. I loved an Englishman’s view of garlic published in 1594: “Garlic makes a man wink, drink and stink.” Winking at that time meaning to inflame lust!
Frequently fascinated and surprised by what he finds, the author delves deep into the history and production of the traditional foods of the south of France. And takes the reader on the tasty journey with him. His serious research includes meeting cooks, producers and fellow diners.
If you love history, are a Francophile, or curious about the origins of French food, this book will take you on a delicious and intriguing journey. Great read.
by Amazon Purchaser
A thoroughly interesting and enjoyable read. The author's passion for his writing and for his food and drink is clear from start to finish, which captivates you as the reader and takes you along on the journey in the book.
Whether a fan of France, food or history, the combination of the three works perfectly in both a fun and informative way.
The only con is that it will certainly leave you feeling hungry, though thankfully there are some great recipes at the end of each chapter!
by James O
Menu from the Midi is a heartfelt tribute to the brightest culinary stars of southwest France. Colin Taylor’s admirable research—including in-depth interviews—reveals the history, legend, and cultural influences that most impact each gastronomic delight. For example, there’s a meaningful variation between Blanquette de Limoux—perhaps the oldest sparkling wine in the world—and Crémant de Limoux. (Both the grape composition and process are different.) An authentic Cassoulet de Castelnaudary—the ultra rich white-bean dish—must be cooked in a special casserole and prepared with a specific white bean, Le Haricot de Castelnaudary. And then there’s the decadent pungent king of cheeses, Roquefort. Its milk comes from only one breed of sheep—the Lacaune—which must be raised within a certain area around the town of Roquefort, roam free for a certain part of the year, and eat hay and cereal produced in a certain locale. And let’s not forget the 14-day ripening period—in a subterranean cellar! That’s what it takes to earn a Roquefort label in these parts.
Foodies and French history buffs alike will appreciate this narrative filled with fascinating facts and entertaining insights related with precision, as well as flair. In describing the Fête du Cassoulet, the author writes, “...and nowadays the festivities last for five days and five nights during which the town bubbles and lets off steam like a piping-hot cassoulet fresh from the oven.”
Colin Taylor has lived in southwest France for two decades and his affection for his adopted region rubs off on you from the get-go. After reading the last page, you can’t help but have a vastly increased appreciation for French food from the Midi, and you will be inspired to visit the area to sample as many of the entries on this menu as you can.
In the meantime, thankfully, there are the tempting recipes included at the end of each chapter. But if you’re not a cook, there’s a solution. You can always transport yourself to this rich culinary zone by popping the cork on a bottle of fizz—Blanquette de Limoux, of course.
Colin has been living in the south of France for 20 years, and through his books he shares his passion for the region's culture, gastronomy, history and language.
In Lauragais: Steeped in History, Soaked in Blood, he explores a thousand years of a history that has been shaped by characters including Simon de Montfort, the Black Prince, Thomas Jefferson and the Duke of Wellington. On a more peaceful note, the book also investigates the construction and operation of the Canal du Midi, and the rise and fall of pastel, or woad, an industry which brought fame and fortune to Toulouse in the 15th and 16th centuries.
His latest book, Menu from the Midi, draws on two decades of intensive personal gastronomic research during which he has discovered first-hand the history and legends, the festivals and fairs, and the cultural background surrounding the Midi's most iconic culinary specialities, including the oldest sparkling wine in the world, le Rolls-Royce of olives, pink garlic soup, meats of the black Gascon pig, the legendary cassoulet, and cheese from the caves of Roquefort..
Visit his website and blog to find out more about the Lauragais and the Midi.