Gascon Diet and Health

Do you know that, in the Gascony region of France, in the land of Three Musketeers, the people snack on fried duck skin and eat twice as much foie gras as other Frenchmen, and fifty times as much as Americans? They are also slathering goose or duck fat on bread instead of butter and eat lots of raw milk cheeses, high in saturated fat and cholesterol…When Dr. Serge Renauld conducted a 10-year long epidemiological survey of dietary habits, he concluded that the Gascons eat a diet very high in saturated fat – actually, higher than any other group of people in the industrialized world. In addition, that region produces a considerable amount of foie gras, fattened livers of ducks or geese, the world-known French delicacy. If to compare the typical Gascon diet with the “healthy” one recommended by the American Association of Registered Dieticians, then we might suspect that every Gascon should be suffering from obesity, cardio-vascular disease, cancer, and have a pathetically short life…

Surprise! In accordance with the results of his research, Dr. Serge Renauld had to admit that “The foie gras eaters of the Gers and Lot Departments in South-West France have the lowest rate of death from cardio-vascular disease in the country”.

However, the typical, strong, healthy and skinny Gascon in his blue beret wouldn’t be surprised about such findings. One of the local farmers commented on the “unusual” results of the study in the following way: “There if nothing strange about it. The people in my family live to be ninety years old. We cook everything in duck fat. We have foie gras on Sunday. Everybody knows this is the long-life diet”.

Maybe, the average Americans would be much slimmer and healthier, too, if they listened more to the traditional dietary wisdom of their European ancestors?

Steak Tartare from France

Almost every world cuisine offers recipes that include raw animal protein (fish, meat and unpasteurized dairy products), which seems to be a universal practise. In Italy the most famous raw appetizer is carpaccio, in the Middle East – kibbeh, in Norway – raw marinated fish, and in France it is steak tartare and, of course, a wide selection of world famous raw milk cheeses. Today, I am going to share the recipe of my very favourite gourmet appetizer from France,Steak Tartare:

In order to make authentic steak tartare, you should start with the freshest ingredients of the highest quality you can find. Shop for organic, free-range, grass-fed sirloin or filet of beef and freeze it for at least 14 days. The practise of freezing ensures that the raw meat will be clean from parasites and other contaminants. Thaw the meat and grind it coarsely. Also, you will need the following ingredients (quality matters!):

– 1 finely minced medium onion
– 3 tbsp mustard (Dijon is the best)
– 2 fresh egg yolks from free-range chickens
– 1/4 cup of fresh parsley or coriander leaves, finely chopped
– unrefined sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Mix ground beef with onion, mustard, egg yolks and herbs. Season to taste and form into a mound on a big platter. Serve as an appetizer with sourdough bread or round croutons, chopped hard-boiled eggs and onions, capers and softened butter. Caution: raw meat appetizers should be eaten the same day they are made! If you have any leftover steak tartare – the next day you can fry the mounds in a mixture of butter and extra-virgin olive oil until well done and serve them with fresh vegetable salad for lunch.

Bon Appetit!:)