Confession of a confit de canard

I finished the academic year in Bordeaux on Thursday, which was a surprisingly momentous occasion. It is almost unbelievable that it is April – the year has gone so quickly and my time in France is drawing to a close (I’m going to stop thinking about it cos sobs are on their way).

Another push to throw myself into the culture then, and of course food is an excellent place to start. I really am going to miss the cuisine here. What is going to replace baguette? Sliced bread as a replacement would be like giving me a puddle of flat lemonade when I needed the sea. Unacceptable.

The other day I had confit de canard for dinner – an extremely indulgent repas that is a speciality of southwest France. While the word confit today refers to slow cooking meat in fat, it originally was a method for preserving food and has existed for eons. Goose and duck legs are cooked and then preserved in fat and stored in cans. It was a must that I tried it.

Off I went to Carrefour in search of it and I came across a can the size of my head with apparently four legs inside. Bingo!! It was a palaver to open with a dodgy tin-opener but eventually we were presented with pinkish meat that I couldn’t wait to extract from its nest of creamy fat, yes, FAAAAAAT. I think the reason that I was so excited was that hype around food across social media is tinged with an almost hysterical fear of fat at the moment. While I agree that eating processed food with hidden fats that are of the harmful kind are the NHS’ worst enemy, moderation is the key. I was looking forward to enjoying a dinner where fat was a necessity and my guilty conscience would not be going into overdrive.

For reasons I’m still not sure of there were five legs instead of four. Anyway, we popped some into an oven dish with blanched potato wedges and carrots and then let them cook for about half an hour. The dish came out of the oven with these beautifully glistening brown legs, with the flesh already drifting apart from the bone. The salty, rich flesh fell to soft ribbons in my mouth, feathers of intense meatiness enhanced by the herbes de provence. Washed down with red wine and good chat, it was a superior dinner, and so simple to prepare! No matter that I am left with a can filled with so much duck grease that I feel like I’m harbouring a fugitive from the fat-hating world.

Soz not soz. It was delicious.

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