Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tasty Heresy in Southern France.

We stayed in Carcassonne, just below the castle walls. We walked the battlements and learned about Cathars and other heretics. Lots of people burned at the stake. I mean, a thousand years ago they did. Not last week.

Last week, we were the sinners. Our sin? Gluttony.

My favorite meal was not one of the many tasty cassoulets. Not even the double-ducked one of my Thanksgiving night meal, which also included foie gras on spiced bread, a few French cheeses with red-wine jam, and crème brûlée.

My favorite meal was not even the one at the Michelin-starred Le Parc, where our creative menu seemed built around a colorful Candyland theme. A frou-frou but amusing experience. The scallops were the dish that had everyone making those moaning sounds. The wine was great too, but I can't tell you a damned thing about it. Overall a fun experience, but was it worth the price? I don't know.

I do know that Lou Pescadou was worth it, and then some. That was hands-down my favorite meal of the trip. This is a fish house on the bank of the Canal du Midi, very near the Mediterranean. In fact the village of Agde was an ancient Greek seaport that later silted up.

Here's how Lou Pescadou works, and how it has worked without exception for 42 years. You get five courses. Those five courses are as follows: Fish soup with garlic scraped on crusty bread and shredded cheese; a heaping bowl of mussels with onions and tomatoes; the largest loaf of country pâté I've ever seen; either a fried fish or flank steak; and finally, orange crêpes.

All of that excellent comfort food for just €15 per person. The only choice you get is fish or steak on that fourth course. The rest? Take it or leave it. And at this point I must give full credit to the Lonely Planet guide for sending us there. There was table wine too, red or white. I think it was €4 per liter, something ridiculous like that. Nothing special but definitely refreshing and pleasant with all the grub.

Agde, incidentally, is lesser known than the nearby nudist community Cap d'Agde. Allegedly there is even a bank and a supermarket down there where folks just go nekkid. Sounds wild, but I don't know man. The supermarket? I know one thing: I don't see a lot of nekkid guys using that bread slicer in the bakery aisle.

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