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A History Of Bordeaux In 10 Dishes


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Holly-Anne Palomo



Food and travel go hand in hand, as exploring the culinary delights of a destination is an integral part of immersing oneself in its culture. For food lovers and travel enthusiasts, embarking on a gastronomic adventure is an exciting way to experience the unique flavors and traditions of different regions. One such destination that tantalizes the taste buds is Bordeaux, a picturesque city in southwestern France known for its world-renowned wines and delectable cuisine. Bordeaux is not just a paradise for wine lovers; it is also a haven for food enthusiasts. The region’s culinary heritage is deeply rooted in its rich history, blending local produce with global influences to create a diverse and exquisite gastronomic scene. From succulent meats to indulgent desserts, Bordeaux offers a variety of dishes that capture the essence of the region. In this article, we will take a journey through the history of Bordeaux through its ten iconic dishes. Each dish represents a different facet of Bordeaux’s culinary heritage, showcasing the flavors and traditions that have shaped the region’s cuisine over the centuries. From the famous Médoc Lamb to the delicate Canelés, we will explore the stories behind these dishes and discover why they have become synonymous with Bordeaux’s gastronomy. So, join us as we delve into the history and flavors of Bordeaux, and uncover the hidden gems that make this region a food lover’s paradise. From farm to fork, vineyard to table, let’s embark on a mouthwatering adventure through the exquisite culinary delights that Bordeaux has to offer.


Dish 1: Médoc Lamb

One of the most iconic dishes in Bordeaux is Médoc Lamb. The Médoc region, located on the left bank of the Gironde estuary, is known for its fertile lands and temperate climate, ideal for raising sheep. The lamb from this region is highly prized for its tender and flavorful meat, making it a staple in Bordeaux’s gastronomic scene. Médoc Lamb is traditionally prepared using a slow-cooking method, allowing the meat to become succulent and melt-in-your-mouth tender. The lamb is typically seasoned with a blend of herbs and spices, such as rosemary, thyme, and garlic, to enhance its natural flavors. It is then roasted to perfection, resulting in a dish that is both hearty and comforting. This dish has a rich history and is deeply connected with the agricultural traditions of the Médoc region. The sheep are raised on lush pastures, grazing on a diet of grass and herbs, which contributes to the unique taste and texture of the meat. The farmers take great pride in their animals and their commitment to sustainable farming practices, ensuring the highest quality lamb for their culinary creations. Médoc Lamb is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed in various preparations. It is commonly served with roasted potatoes and seasonal vegetables, drizzled with a savory jus made from the lamb drippings. The combination of flavors and textures in this dish is a true delight for the senses, evoking the rustic charm of the Médoc countryside. For wine lovers visiting Bordeaux, Médoc Lamb is often paired with the region’s famous red wines, particularly those from the Médoc appellation. The robust and tannic nature of these wines complements the rich flavors of the lamb, creating a harmonious dining experience. Whether enjoyed at a local bistro or in the comfort of a traditional farmhouse, Médoc Lamb is a dish that embodies the rustic elegance and agricultural traditions of Bordeaux. Its tender meat and aromatic flavors make it a must-try for any food lover looking to savor the true essence of the region.


Dish 2: Entrecôte à la Bordelaise

When it comes to indulging in a steak that is rich in flavor and history, look no further than Entrecôte à la Bordelaise. This classic Bordeaux dish showcases the region’s mastery of meat and wine pairing, combining the tender goodness of a juicy entrecôte steak with a luscious Bordelaise sauce. The entrecôte steak, also known as ribeye, is a cut of beef known for its marbling and succulence. In Bordeaux, the steak is grilled to perfection, allowing the charred exterior to seal in the juices while the interior remains tender and pink. It is then served with a generous helping of Bordelaise sauce, a velvety concoction made from red wine, shallots, bone marrow, and demi-glace. The Bordelaise sauce is the star of this dish, elevating the flavors of the steak to new heights. Made using the region’s renowned red wines, such as those from Saint-Émilion or Pomerol, the sauce imparts a rich and robust character that perfectly complements the beef. The addition of shallots and bone marrow adds layers of complexity and a silky texture, creating a sauce that is both indulgent and harmonious. Entrecôte à la Bordelaise is often served with frites, or french fries, and a side of seasonal vegetables. The combination of the tender steak, flavorful sauce, and crispy fries creates a culinary symphony that is sure to satisfy even the most discerning palates. This dish has a long and storied history in Bordeaux, originating from the region’s deep-rooted love for beef and wine. The marriage of these two iconic elements creates a dish that is quintessentially Bordelaise, representing the rich culinary heritage of the city and its surrounding vineyards. Whether enjoyed at a traditional Bordeaux brasserie or a Michelin-starred restaurant, Entrecôte à la Bordelaise is a dish that embodies the essence of Bordeaux’s gastronomy. With its succulent steak, velvety sauce, and impeccable pairing with local wines, it is a must-try for any food traveler seeking to experience the flavors that define this vibrant wine region.


Dish 3: Foie Gras

A delicacy that is synonymous with French cuisine, Foie Gras holds a special place in the heart of Bordeaux’s gastronomy. Translated as “fat liver,” Foie Gras is a luxurious dish made from the liver of a fattened duck or goose. It is considered a true culinary treasure, renowned for its rich and buttery texture, delicate flavor, and unparalleled indulgence. The process of creating Foie Gras involves a traditional technique known as gavage, where the bird is force-fed a special diet of maize for several weeks. This feeding process results in the liver becoming fatty and enlarged, giving it that signature creamy texture and intense flavor. In Bordeaux, Foie Gras is often served as a terrine or in slices, accompanied by crusty bread, sweet fig jam, or a tangy chutney. The contrast between the velvety Foie Gras and the crunchy bread creates a delightful sensory experience. With each bite, the rich flavors and luxurious mouthfeel of Foie Gras transport you to the indulgent world of French gastronomy. Foie Gras holds a long history in Bordeaux, dating back centuries. It has been esteemed as a delicacy in the region since ancient times, and its production has been perfected by generations of skilled artisans. Bordeaux’s proximity to the Dordogne region, known for its exceptional Foie Gras farms, makes it an ideal destination for savoring this culinary treasure. When visiting Bordeaux, one cannot miss the opportunity to indulge in the decadence of Foie Gras. Whether experienced at a Michelin-starred restaurant or a local bistro, this iconic dish showcases the elegance and sophistication of Bordeaux’s culinary scene. Its velvety texture and rich, complex flavors make it a true epicurean delight that will leave a lasting impression. While Foie Gras is not without its controversies, its importance to Bordeaux’s culinary heritage cannot be denied. It is a dish that has been celebrated and enjoyed for centuries and continues to be an essential part of the local food culture. For food travelers looking to experience the epitome of indulgence, a taste of Foie Gras is an absolute must when exploring Bordeaux’s culinary offerings.


Dish 4: Canelés

No visit to Bordeaux would be complete without indulging in the delectable delights of Canelés. These small, caramelized pastries are a true emblem of Bordeaux’s culinary heritage, with a crispy exterior and a soft, custard-like center that melts in your mouth. Canelés are said to have originated from the Convent of the Annonciades in Bordeaux during the 18th century. The nuns used leftover egg yolks from the wine-making process to create these sweet treats, resulting in a recipe that has stood the test of time. The secret to the unique texture and flavor of Canelés lies in the specialty mold used for baking. Traditionally, the molds are copper, which allows for even heat distribution and creates a beautifully caramelized exterior. The inside is a delicate blend of vanilla and rum-infused custard, making each bite a delightful symphony of flavors. These bite-sized confections are enjoyed as a snack or dessert, paired perfectly with a cup of freshly brewed coffee or a glass of sweet Bordeaux wine. The contrast between the crispy caramelized shell and the creamy, vanilla-infused center is truly irresistible. Canelés are not only delicious, but they also hold a special place in Bordeaux’s culinary culture. They have become a symbol of the city, with shops dedicated solely to crafting these delicate pastries. Locals and visitors alike flock to these establishments to satisfy their sweet tooth and indulge in the unique flavors of this iconic Bordeaux delicacy. Whether enjoyed fresh from the oven or purchased from a local patisserie, Canelés are a must-try for anyone visiting Bordeaux. Their history, craftsmanship, and exquisite taste make them a true culinary gem of the region. So, be sure to grab a box of these petite pastries and savor the sweet essence of Bordeaux in every delightful bite.


Dish 5: Pauillac Oysters

Nestled along the pristine shores of the Atlantic Ocean, Bordeaux is blessed with an abundance of fresh and briny oysters. Among the various oyster appellations in the region, Pauillac stands out as a haven for oyster lovers, offering a taste of the sea like no other. Pauillac oysters are known for their exceptional quality and distinctive flavor profile. Grown in the nutrient-rich waters of the Gironde estuary, these oysters develop a unique taste that is a testament to their terroir. The cold waters and tidal movement in the estuary contribute to the oysters’ plumpness, sweetness, and iodine-rich brininess. When it comes to enjoying Pauillac oysters, simplicity is key. They are typically served on a bed of crushed ice, accompanied by slices of lemon and a shallot and red wine vinegar mignonette. The oysters are shucked to order, ensuring the utmost freshness and preserving their delicate briny essence. The experience of savoring Pauillac oysters goes beyond just the taste. It is a sensory journey, where the sight of the glistening shells and the sound of their delicate clink create an ambiance of seaside bliss. Each slurp of the meaty oyster transports you to the rugged coastlines of Bordeaux, evoking a sense of connection to nature and its bountiful offerings. Pauillac oysters have become a culinary tradition in Bordeaux, enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. They are often savored with a glass of crisp white wine, such as a Sauvignon Blanc or a Semillon, to complement their delicate flavors. The combination of the brininess of the oyster and the acidity of the wine is a match made in heaven. Whether enjoyed at a coastal restaurant, a market stall, or on a picnic by the sea, Pauillac oysters are an essential part of Bordeaux’s food culture. They represent the region’s close relationship with the ocean and its dedication to sustainable seafood practices. So, if you find yourself in Bordeaux, be sure to indulge in the unparalleled pleasure of Pauillac oysters. With each succulent bite, you’ll be transported to the pristine waters of the Gironde estuary, experiencing the true taste of the sea in this exceptional delicacy.


Dish 6: Tourin à l’Ail

If you’re a fan of garlic and hearty soups, then Tourin à l’Ail is a dish that you must try when visiting Bordeaux. This traditional garlic soup is a comfort food classic in the region, known for its robust flavors and soul-warming qualities. Tourin à l’Ail is made from a simple yet flavorful combination of ingredients. It typically includes garlic, eggs, bread, and chicken or vegetable broth. The star of the dish, of course, is the garlic, which gives the soup its distinctive aroma and taste. The garlic cloves are sautéed until soft and fragrant before being incorporated into the soup. This soup is often enjoyed during the colder months when the warmth and richness of the flavors provide comfort and nourishment. The eggs are added to create a smooth and velvety texture, while the bread serves as a thickening agent, giving the soup a satisfying and substantial consistency. Tourin à l’Ail is not only a dish beloved for its taste but also for its cultural significance. It is a dish that has been passed down through generations and embodies the sense of tradition and heritage that is so deeply rooted in Bordeaux’s culinary culture. When it comes to serving Tourin à l’Ail, it is often accompanied by slices of crusty bread, which are perfect for dipping into the soup or spreading with a dollop of garlic-infused butter. The combination of flavors and textures creates a harmonious blend that is sure to satisfy even the heartiest of appetites. Whether enjoyed at a traditional family table or at a local bistro, Tourin à l’Ail provides a taste of Bordeaux’s rustic charm and comfort. Its bold flavors and warming qualities make it an ideal dish for those looking for a truly authentic culinary experience in Bordeaux. So, if you find yourself in Bordeaux during the colder months, be sure to seek out a bowl of Tourin à l’Ail and savor the rich flavors and comforting aromas of this traditional garlic soup. It’s a true taste of Bordeaux’s culinary heritage and a comforting reminder of the region’s dedication to wholesome and flavorful cuisine.


Dish 7: Lamprey à la Bordelaise

Lamprey à la Bordelaise is a unique and ancient dish that holds a special place in Bordeaux’s gastronomic heritage. Often referred to as “the fish of kings,” lamprey is a prehistoric-looking creature that has been enjoyed as a delicacy for centuries. Lamprey à la Bordelaise is a dish that showcases the region’s ingenuity in transforming this peculiar fish into a culinary masterpiece. The lamprey is typically cooked in a rich and flavorsome red wine sauce, infused with aromatic herbs and spices. The sauce enhances the meaty and slightly sweet taste of the lamprey, creating a harmonious blend of flavors that is simply irresistible. The tradition of consuming lamprey dates back to Roman times, where it was considered a luxury and a symbol of opulence. Bordeaux’s location near the Gironde estuary, where lampreys migrate for spawning, has allowed the fish to become an integral part of the region’s cuisine. Lamprey à la Bordelaise is often served alongside a side dish of mashed potatoes or crusty bread, which is perfect for sopping up the delectable wine sauce. The combination of the tender lamprey meat, flavorful sauce, and hearty accompaniments creates a truly indulgent and satisfying dining experience. While lamprey may not be as widely known as other seafood delicacies, it holds a significant cultural significance in Bordeaux. The annual Lamprey Festival, held in the city of Saint-Palais-sur-Mer, celebrates this ancient tradition and attracts locals and visitors alike to indulge in the unique flavors of this prized fish. For adventurous food lovers, trying Lamprey à la Bordelaise is a must when visiting Bordeaux. It offers a taste of the region’s rich culinary heritage and provides a glimpse into the ancient traditions that have shaped its gastronomy. So, if you have an adventurous palate and a desire to experience a truly unique dish, don’t miss the opportunity to savor Lamprey à la Bordelaise. It is a testament to Bordeaux’s ability to transform humble ingredients into extraordinary culinary delights.


Dish 8: Sauternes Wine and Roquefort Cheese

When it comes to iconic food and wine pairings, few combinations are as legendary as Sauternes wine and Roquefort cheese. Both hailing from the Bordeaux region, these two culinary gems come together to create a truly unforgettable gastronomic experience. Sauternes wine is a luxurious and sweet white wine produced in the vineyards surrounding the town of Sauternes in Bordeaux. It is made from grapes that have been affected by the noble rot, a natural fungus that concentrates the sugars in the berries, resulting in a lusciously sweet wine. Sauternes is revered for its rich apricot, honey, and caramel flavors, as well as its vibrant acidity that balances the sweetness. Roquefort cheese, on the other hand, is a creamy and pungent blue cheese that is aged in the natural limestone caves of the Roquefort-sur-Soulzon region. Made from the milk of the Lacaune breed of sheep, Roquefort develops its distinctive blue veins and sharp, tangy flavor from the Penicillium Roqueforti mold. The cheese has a crumbly yet creamy texture that melts in the mouth, leaving a complex and lingering taste. When paired together, Sauternes wine and Roquefort cheese create a sublime symphony of flavors. The sweetness of the wine harmonizes beautifully with the intense saltiness and spiciness of the cheese, while the cheese’s creamy texture provides a delightful contrast to the wine’s unctuousness. The combination of Sauternes and Roquefort is often enjoyed as a dessert course, but it can also be savored as an exquisite prelude to a meal or as a luxurious treat on its own. The marriage of these two regional specialties exemplifies the diverse flavors and craftsmanship that Bordeaux has to offer. To fully appreciate this pairing, it is best to savor the wine and cheese together, allowing their flavors to mingle on the palate. The Sauternes enhances the creaminess and richness of the Roquefort, while the cheese’s salty and tangy notes beautifully complement the wine’s honeyed sweetness. Whether enjoyed in the charming cellars of Bordeaux or in the comforts of your own home, the combination of Sauternes wine and Roquefort cheese is a sensory experience that embodies the essence of Bordeaux’s culinary traditions. It’s a true marriage of flavors that is sure to leave a lasting impression on any food lover. So, next time you find yourself in Bordeaux, be sure to partake in this exquisite pairing and experience the magic that happens when Sauternes wine and Roquefort cheese unite.


Dish 9: Dried Prunes from Agen

When it comes to sweet treats, Dried Prunes from Agen hold a special place in Bordeaux’s culinary world. Grown in the fertile lands of the Lot-et-Garonne department, just southeast of Bordeaux, these plump and succulent prunes have become synonymous with the region’s gastronomy. Dried Prunes from Agen are made from the prized Ente plums, which are native to the region. The plums are left to ripen on the trees before being hand-picked and carefully dried to perfection. The drying process intensifies their natural sweetness and concentrates their flavors, resulting in a delectable treat that is loved by locals and visitors alike. Known for their soft and sticky texture, Dried Prunes from Agen are enjoyed as a snack on their own or used as a versatile ingredient in both sweet and savory dishes. They can be added to cakes, tarts, and desserts, providing a touch of natural sweetness and a hint of tanginess. In savory dishes, they can be used in stews, tagines, and even paired with roasted meats, adding a depth of flavor and complexity. The history of Dried Prunes from Agen dates back several centuries, with production techniques passed down through generations. The region’s climate and soil create the perfect conditions for growing plums with an ideal balance of sweetness and acidity. The fame of Dried Prunes from Agen extends far beyond the borders of Bordeaux. They are recognized throughout France and internationally for their exceptional quality and unique flavor. Agen even hosts a festival dedicated to these plump fruits, where visitors can indulge in various prune-based delicacies and learn about the traditional drying process. Whether enjoyed as a standalone snack or incorporated into a delightful dessert, Dried Prunes from Agen captivate the taste buds with their natural sweetness and rich flavor. They are a true testament to Bordeaux’s commitment to producing exceptional food products that celebrate the region’s culinary heritage. So, if you have a sweet tooth or are simply looking to experience an iconic Bordeaux delicacy, be sure to taste the irresistible Dried Prunes from Agen. With each bite, you’ll discover the unique flavors and traditions that make Bordeaux’s culinary offerings so special.


Dish 10: Cèpes Mushrooms in Red Wine Sauce

Cèpes Mushrooms in Red Wine Sauce is a delightful culinary creation that showcases the flavors of the forest in Bordeaux. Cèpes, also known as porcini mushrooms, are highly sought-after for their rich earthy flavor and meaty texture. When cooked in a luscious red wine sauce, they become the star of a truly indulgent dish. In Bordeaux, Cèpes Mushrooms in Red Wine Sauce is often enjoyed during the autumn season when the forests are abundant with these prized mushrooms. The dish starts with fresh, whole cèpes mushrooms that are sautéed to bring out their natural flavors. The mushrooms are then simmered in a flavorful red wine sauce, typically made with Bordeaux wines such as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon, which adds depth and richness to the dish. The combination of the earthy mushrooms and the tangy, wine-infused sauce creates a harmonious blend of flavors that is both comforting and sophisticated. The mushrooms absorb the essence of the red wine, resulting in a dish that is robust and aromatic. The dish is often finished with a sprinkle of fresh herbs, such as parsley or thyme, to add a touch of brightness to the flavors. Cèpes Mushrooms in Red Wine Sauce can be enjoyed in various ways. They are often served as a side dish accompanying grilled meats or as a filling for savory tarts and pastries. The versatility of this dish allows it to shine on its own or as part of a larger culinary creation. The pairing of cèpes mushrooms with red wine is a celebration of both the bountiful forest and the vineyards that surround Bordeaux. It showcases the region’s commitment to utilizing locally sourced ingredients and its expertise in wine production. For food enthusiasts and mushroom lovers, Cèpes Mushrooms in Red Wine Sauce offers a culinary experience like no other. The combination of the earthy mushrooms and the complex flavors of the red wine sauce is sure to captivate the taste buds and create a memorable dining experience. So, whether you’re exploring the markets of Bordeaux, dining at a local restaurant, or perfecting the recipe in your own kitchen, be sure to indulge in the sumptuous flavors of Cèpes Mushrooms in Red Wine Sauce. It’s a dish that embodies the natural beauty and culinary excellence of Bordeaux.



Bordeaux is not just a destination for wine enthusiasts; it is a paradise for food travelers as well. The region’s rich culinary heritage, influenced by its fertile lands, diverse terroirs, and historical traditions, offers a plethora of flavors and experiences that captivate the senses. From the succulent Médoc Lamb to the indulgent Foie Gras, each dish tells a story of Bordeaux’s deep connection with its land and its commitment to preserving culinary traditions. Throughout our journey, we have explored the ten iconic dishes that embody the essence of Bordeaux’s gastronomy. From the humble yet enticing Canelés to the luxurious Lamprey à la Bordelaise, each dish represents a piece of Bordeaux’s vibrant culinary tapestry. We have learned about the history, flavors, and cultural significance behind these iconic delicacies, showcasing the diversity and creativity of the region’s cuisine. Food lovers visiting Bordeaux are in for a treat, as they have the opportunity to savor the delights of this culinary wonderland. The city and its surrounding areas offer a wealth of restaurants, bistros, and markets where one can experience the authentic flavors of Bordeaux. From Michelin-starred establishments to charming neighborhood cafes, the choices are endless. The dishes we’ve explored in this article are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Bordeaux’s culinary offerings. The region’s commitment to local, seasonal ingredients and sustainable agricultural practices ensures a continuous array of innovative and delicious creations. Whether you’re a food traveler seeking unique culinary experiences or a wine lover looking to pair great food with exceptional vintages, Bordeaux is a destination that will tantalize your taste buds and leave you wanting more. So, indulge in the succulent Médoc Lamb, savor the delicate Foie Gras, and satisfy your sweet tooth with Canelés and Dried Prunes from Agen. Experience the historic flavors of Lamprey à la Bordelaise and the comforting warmth of Tourin à l’Ail. Delight in the exquisite combination of Sauternes wine and Roquefort cheese, and treat yourself to the earthy flavors of Cèpes Mushrooms in Red Wine Sauce. Bordeaux’s food travel scene is a treasure trove of flavors and traditions, waiting to be discovered and savored. It is a culinary journey that will leave you with unforgettable memories and a profound appreciation for the region’s gastronomic heritage. Bon appétit!