The cuisine in the region of Nord Pas-de-Calais, due to its position, is a mixture of French and Flemish influences. Beer, being the most popular drink in the area, is often used in cooking and many dishes also use chicory, as the north of France is the world’s leading producer. Fish and shellfish from the North Sea are very popular, especially herring, mussels and shrimps, whilst freshwater fish include trout, pike, carp and eels. Cheeses produced in the North have a strong, pungent taste and include Maroilles AOC, one of France’s oldest cheeses apparently invented by a monk in the 10th century.
Local specialities include ostrich pâté, flamiche aux poireaux (leek tart), anguilles au vert (eels cooked in white wine with spinach, herbs and sorrel leaves), andouillettes (small sausages made from offal), endives gratinées au jambon (chicory with ham and Béchamel sauce), tourte au Maroilles (Maroilles cheese pie), vélouté de potiron (pumpkin soup), soupe a la bière / flamande (soup made with eggs, beer and cream), ficelle picarde (gratinated pancakes containing ham, mushrooms and onions), waterzooï (fish or chicken stew with egg yolks and cream), carbonnade de boeuf (braised steak and onions cooked with beer and bread), macqureau à la boulonnaise (poached mackerel and mussels) and tarte au sucre (crisp, sugared pastry with cream).
Wines & drink
The north of France is too cold for wine production but produces plenty of oats, barley, rye and wheat, which are used in the breweries and distilleries. The most popular drink is beer with four main types produced in the north: blonde (a light, lager type beer low in alcohol), blanche (a pale, wheat malt beer with a cloudy appearance and malty taste), brune (a dark, bitter beer made with roasted malt) and ambrée (an ale made with toasted malt). Many breweries offer unfiltered, traditional style beers. The most popular spirit is the locally made genièvre (juniper gin) usually served ice cold and often with a cup of coffee.