Hearty French stew can fill hearts and stomachs of people who are far from home
Cassoulet is a traditional French bean stew with a story – the French dish can be traced back to the 14th century, during the Hundred Years' War. When Castelnaudary, a small town in the south of France, was under siege, the citizens of the town came together to cook a hearty meal for their soldiers. The story goes that the soldiers were so invigorated by their meal that they were able to chase out the invaders and save the town.
"God the Father is the cassoulet of Castelnaudary, God the Son that of Carcassone, and the Holy Sprit that of Toulouse," French chef Prosper Montagne said in 1929 to clear up the issue of the origin of the dish, according to Time magazine.
Cassoulet, Toulouse and Carcassone are all bean-based stews, but the type of meat in the recipe determines the type of stew. The traditional Castelnaudary cassoulet usually calls for duck confit, while Toulouse's variation uses mutton and pork shoulder and Carcassone often has partridge and mutton. There are canned versions available at the supermarket, but people who are living away from home will make international wire transfers so their families back home can buy the ingredients to make cassoulet from scratch.