Cuisine of Pas de Calais
Pas de Calais is perhaps most renowned for its confectionary, but its location on the coast and proximity to Belgium mean the selection of dishes offers a unique blend of flavours. The names of several popular meals give away their French-Flemish origin, their taste reflecting a fusion of the two cultures that results in a memorable dining experience.
As far as traditional Pas de Calais cuisine goes, few dishes are packed with heritage and history like Potjevleesch. Translated as ‘small meat mix’, this classical dish combines chicken, rabbit, and veal within a rich jelly coating, and adopts an appearance comparable to that of a terrine. Served cold and accompanied by French fries and salad, the dish has been enjoyed in the region since the early 14th century. Few others can rival it for a taste of authentic, north coast cuisine.
Also originating in Flanders, the Waterzooi stew of fresh or seawater fish has been a staple among the people of Pas de Calais for centuries. Traditional recipes for the dish require bass, eel, and carp to be stewed with vegetables including carrots and leeks, as well as eggs, cream, and butter. Modern takes on the dish include the addition of high-quality chicken. Regardless of the fish and vegetables used in cooking, the result is a rich and delicious meal that was reputedly the favourite of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V.
Betises de Cambrai
For those with a penchant for sweet treats, the Betises de Cambrai is a Pas de Calais speciality. The mint-flavoured confectionary originates from the small town of Cambrai and, according to legend, was crafted by accident by a confectioner’s son. The resulting sweet – which is made from natural ingredients and flavoured with caramel – is today available in a number of guises across the region, and is readily available for those looking for the perfect holiday souvenir.
Beers and wine
While many regions in France enjoy an international reputation for high-quality wines, those of the Pas de Calais are lesser known, but no less enjoyable than their more famous counterparts. Where the drink of the region really comes into its own, however, is in the production of local beers: Biere du Nord is renowned throughout France, while other brands such as Grain d’Orge, Septante-5, and Saint-Poloise all offer a distinct flavour to be enjoyed either during or after a meal.