The town of Coutras (33, Gironde, Nouvelle Aquitaine) goes onion crazy on 26 August 2015 with its “Foire aux oignons” – yet another celebration of something which is at first quite mundane, but which can be elevated to a gastronomic jewel!

onionsFor the French an onion is not just an oignon. – they come in all shapes, sizes and colours, and each has a specific purpose. In cooking most French chefs will use Shallots (échallote), which are smaller and more delicate in flavour than the common onion. They also use small, flat “grelots” which are often used as a raw garnish – the flesh tends to be brilliant white but strong.You’ll see a lot of the larger Spanish onions which are milder in flavour, whilst of course the salad or spring onion and the red onion tend to be used for salads.In the north you’ll find the flat straw-coloured “oignons jaune paille des Vertus”, and in Alsace they grow the French equivalent of our pickling onions – “oignons de Mulhouse”.

However, back in Coutras, there is a market (both local produce and bric-a-brac (junk)) in the Place de la Mairie and in the evening there is a night market with French Onion Soup.
(There is a good recipe for French Onion soup in the delightful “Classic French Cooking” by Elisabeth Luard – see Classic French Cooking: Recipes for Mastering the French Kitchen
Coutras lies northeast of Bordeaux and Libourne near the confluence of the Isle and Dronne rivers.
For more info see Coutras Tourist Office

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