Gers is the heart of Gascony, and gastronomy is at the heart of the traditional Gascon way of life. Look for signs for fermes auberges where local farmers will give you and your family a warm welcome to dine on traditional fare in a traditional setting, and restaurants which take pleasure in offering genuine Gascon hospitality.
The warm summers and mild winters allow the rich soil to support the equally rich south-west cuisine which is a must for any visitor to try. Gers is the biggest producer of foie gras in France and home to a variety of goose and duck dishes and confit (preserves) as well as pates and potted pork. Look on menus for magret de canard (duck breast) and Henri IV’s sixteenth century poulet au pot (the chicken stew he promised all his subjects should be entitled to once a week). Local variations on cassoulet - basically a casserole of beans, sausage duck or goose - and the cabbage, potato and meat soup known as gabure, are both part of France’s south west regional cuisine including Gers.
Many recipes use walnut oil, garlic and wild mushrooms and truffles, all in plentiful supply locally. Pictures of Gascon vines can be seen in the mosaics of the fourth century Gallo-Roman villa at Seviac and the famous Armagnac brandy, was reputedly first produced here by the Moors in the twelfth century - 200 years before Cognac! Originally this single distilled brandy was used only as a medicine as documents in the Vatican library bear witness. The best quality grapes in the Tenareze Armagnac region are grown around Eauze which also has a great market. You’ll find plenty of opportunities for tastings throughout Gers but do also try Floc d’Gascogne aperitif which is a mix of local wine with the spirit. Wines to look out for from Gers’s 20,000 hectares of vineyards are the reds of Madiras, Buzet and St Mont and white wines of Pacherenc and Vic-Bilh. All sorts of delicious fruits like plums make tasty preserves. Melons from around Lectoure are delicious just to eat as they are, but apples layered between thin filo pastry sprinkled with Armagnac are something extra special. Called croustade or sometimes lou pastis, it makes for a mouth-watering moment.