Letter From Bouisse - A Bit Of A Pickle

Last Updated: 27 February 2014
Created: 19 August 2009

Leaving Limoux, the drive to Bouisse takes about half an hour, winding through spectacular countryside and rugged scenery. This is a time to appreciate favourite music, relax and simply enjoy the tranquil drive.




Announcing arrival at Bouisse is the Parcours Sportif d’Al Bosc which, one could easily be forgiven for missing. Instead, appearing as a mirage, nurtured parkland with the glint of sunshine reflecting on still waters captures the attention as you peer downwards through light forest land to the three lakes of the village.





Parcours Sportif is common throughout French municipal parks – exercise structures, usually of wooden construction and often with instructions alluding to their intended function. These directions are missing in Bouisse, and perhaps this answers why I have yet to witness their usage...

The lakes themselves are well stocked with trout, fishing permits available from the village but, it is the parkland which attracts so many. Just 5 minutes stroll from the centre and caringly cultivated by Joss (yet another hard working lady of Bouisse), this area is a regular setting for daily prominades, family and village parties and regular Tai Chi retreats. With its trestle tables, prodigious barbeque pit and the availability of fresh water deems this an ideal location, however large or small an occasion. Just last weekend the association of local hunters commandeered the entire barbeque space which otherwise hosts campers, picnics, wedding receptions and each July the Retired Mayors of the canton organise a barbeque event. This green space is constantly used by locals and welcomed visitors from further afield.



Early August and the tended vegetable plots around the village are bursting with produce. I remember my grandfathers’ allotment in the north of England where tomatoes and cucumbers were grown under glass frames but, here under the Corbieres sunshine, no such contraption is required. Tomatoes gently ripen on their vines whilst rows of onions, potatoes and beans stand to attention in perfect military fashion. With such abundance begging to be used, this is a time for pickles, chutneys and preserves to return a little summer sunshine into coming cooler months.





La Coumeto’s pickles and chutneys are fantastic and I am always delighted to sample the latest experiment (I am also pleased to report that after several seasons of encouragement, La Coumeto now sells assorted preserves, neatly packaged in pretty jars). I enjoy these visits to their kitchen – catching up on village happenings and always a tasting; today a deliciously sweet, crisp dill and mustard pickle prepared using a recipe by Peter Gordon.







Armed with the necessary ingredients from La Coumeto’s vegetable garden and a copy of Vegetables, The New Food Hero’s by Peter Gordon (with gratitude to Quadrille Publishing for their permission to reproduce this recipe and its photograph by Jean Cazals), I set off to try out these pickles myself, ticking off the days until they are ready. This is so amazingly quick and easy to prepare and once tasted, I would challenge anyone to ever be tempted to shop buy pickles again!













Dill and Mustard Pickled Cucumber


Taken from Vegetables, The New Food Hero’s by Peter Gordon; published by Quadrille

recipe photograph by Jean Cazals

Similar to the ‘fridge pickles’ (pages 134 -6 Vegetables, The New Food Hero’s) these are great with cold potato salad, with pickled herrings and sardines, or eaten as a snack or in a cheese sandwich.

Makes 1 x 1litre jar


  • 250ml white wine vinegar (or cider or rice vinegar)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 1 large cucumber
  • 4 banana shallots (or 8 ordinary shallots)
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 2 small handfuls of dill, chopped roughly into 2cm lengths
  • a few sprigs of oregano

1. Place the vinegar, salt and caster sugar in a pan with 450 ml water and bring to the boil.

2. Fill a heatproof jar with boiling water and leave to sit for a minute on a folded tea towel.

3. Cut both ends from the cucumber and slice it quite thinly, then place the slices in a bowl. Peel and slice the shallots then add to the cucumber, together with the garlic, pepper, mustard seeds, dill and oregano.

4. Drain the hot water from the jar and pack it with the cucumber mixture. Pour the boiling pickling liquid over the cucumber and seal the jar while hot.

Leave to cool on the tea towel, then place in the fridge. Leave for at least 3 days before using.




click here for a printable version of Dill And Mustard Pickled Cucumber




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