In the town of Valence, there was once a famous jurist called Jacques Cujas. He had an even more famous student, François Rabelais, who would go on to become the writer of note and notoriety from the Renaissance. Besides author, editor, friar, doctor, curate and lecturer, he was a lifelong cook and his works are peppered with quaint edible expressions – ‘the appetite grows with eating,’ for example. One little-known fact about Rabelais was that whilst in Rome, as the personal physician to the ambassador to the Vatican, he collected and took back the seeds of plants unfamiliar to the French; he was even responsible for the introduction of Cos lettuce to France, which subsequently took the name Romaine there.
The Valence which Rabelais left behind on his way to Rome lies halfway between fertile Provence, abundant with its rich bounty, and Lyon, widely accredited as France’s culinary capital. Maybe more renowned for its vineyards – Crozes-Hermitage, St Joseph, St Péray, Côte Rôtie, Cornas – the sleepy, Roman town is also home to one of France’s oldest kitchen dynasties – la Famille Pic.
Continue reading ‘Maison Pic, Valence’