Today we’ll be celebrating by serving the Welsh dish cawl (a soup or stew of lamb, leeks and potatoes) to a party of our Occitan friends.
Aujourd’hui on fête la Saint-David en servant le plat gallois cawl (le ragout d’agneau et des légumes) pour nos amis occitans.
The main ingredients of cawl are meat, leeks, onions and potatoes. In the hills of west Wales, where my family comes from, it is usually made with ham or with lamb. The high land there is so poor that it can only be used for raising sheep, and all smallholders would have kept a pig as well, as a way of recycling waste. Potatoes, leeks, carrots and onions would have been grown in the garden or in a small field. This is the ultimate sustainable food – as most peasant dishes are, the world over. In more fertile areas of south Wales, where the land is good enough for dairy farming and cattle-rearing, cawl is made with beef.
Les ingrédients principals du cawl sont la viande, les poireaux, les oignons et les pommes de terre. Sur les collines de l’ouest du Pays de Galles, d’où vient ma famille, on fait le cawl avec l’agneau ou le jambon. Le terrain haut est si pauvre qu’il ne supporte que les moutons, et tous les paysans élévaient des cochons aussi – un façon de recyclage. Les pommes de terre, les poireaux, les carrottes et les oignons poussaient dans les potagers ou dans les petits champs. C’est la nourriture durable, comme la plupart de plats paysans autour du monde. Dans les régions plus fertile au sud du Pays de Galles ils font le cawl avec le boeuf.
The recipe for cawl is simple: just put lamb (or ham), potatoes and carrots in a large pan, cover with water, add salt, pepper, bay leaves and parsley, bring to the boil and simmer for about an hour. Take out the lamb and remove the meat from the bone. Cut into 2 cm chunks and return to the pan. Add chopped leeks and simmer for a further half an hour. Serve, garnished with chopped parsley, with a good tasty farmhouse cheese and some crusty bread. Quantities depend on how much meat you’ve got – this is a good dish for making meat go further as you can use less meat and more vegetable. Some of the meat should be on the bone as this makes a better stock, and some of the meat should be quite fatty – to create a ‘starry’ effect on the surface of the cawl.
>Happy St david’s day – hope your guests enjoy the cawl.
>I recently read a St. David’s Day celebration held at the home of a Welsh woman in Sicily! How I wish italians celebrated that particular saint as well — if I had known sooner I’d have joined in the fun and made this soup for dinner last night!
>Funny how that recipe is the same the world over, just with substitutions– cilantro or lemon grass or rosemary instead of bay and parsley, chicken or shellfish instead of lamb. Roasted beans instead of cheese, corn cakes instead of wheat bread. Peasant food is real food. I’m a proud peasant.
>The stew looks delicious! I am also quite envious of your spring flowers!!! We are getting snow again… spring will have to wait Thought I’d mention that I tried a wonderful Languedoc wine, Picpoul de Pinet, last week. How lucky are you to be living in a region with such a rich wine culture!! I will be drinking a lot more of that bright wine once it warms up here in Vermont.
>Thanks to you all for your comments. Becky: Picpoul de Pinet is a very special wine – it goes very well with oysters and other sea food and grows in a very small area between Pézenas and the sea. You were lucky to find it in Vermont!
>It goes so well with sushi!! I am revamping a wine list at a sushi bar and that was a clear winner at the tastings. it is great now but I know it will be such a hit once we gat some warm weather. Sit on the patio take a sip…… mmm