Posted tagged ‘the Camargue’

C’est Très Cowboy

March 16, 2009


This could be Montana, n’est-ce pas?  Or anywhere in the Dakotas, or Colorado, or even Australia.  Booted guys in jeans and hats, getting ready to ride the range on their trusty mounts, rope those steers and show ’em who’s boss.  Or show ’em who’s le chef in this case, since these are French cowboys, Camarguais cowboys to be precise, mounted on their famous white Camarguais horses, one of the oldest breeds in the world.


They’re beautiful horses, starting out their lives grey and turning mostly white as they mature.


This pretty baby is for sale, and I’ll always hope that she managed to convince this guy to take her home.  I know I wanted to.


The bulls are also a distinct Camarguais breed, bred for their beauty and fighting spirit, and although some of them might end up in the ring,


either in Spain or in France, or, as you can see here, running tamely through the streets of towns all over the south, many will become gardianne de taureau, a stew of red wine and bull meat. 


 If you have some bull meat, or some really tough beef, you can try this recipe, since bull meat is a lot like regular beef from the butcher, only much tougher, as the bulls spend their days roaming freely and being chased by cowboys, and a few cowgirls.


But although you do see some cowgirls in the Camargue, more often the Camarguais notion of feminine beauty is


brighter, flashier, closer to Spain than to home on the range.


The Camargue is also famed for its salt, the best of which is raked by hand in the very early morning.  You probably even have some at home, since a lot of it is exported outside of France.  It’s amazing that one small part of the country can contain such a variety of riches.

And then, like the glorious icing on an already special cake, there are the Camarguais flamingos.  But wait, where are the flamingos?  Everywhere, except wherever you are.  They’re always just out of reach, too far away for the camera, and for all but the best binoculars.  You can see lots of them, dotting the swamps and rice fields, but you can’t see them well.   So I’ll have to leave you to imagine them, as I do, like a pink cotton candy cloud on the horizon of the Camargue.