The region’s natural resources have generated top-quality ingredients for the local cuisine. The red cows from Salers graze in the rich pastureland of one of the Cantal plateaus of the same name, providing the highest-grade beef and lamb for consumption. These products go into the preparation of potée auvergnate, a meat and vegetable stew that is simmered for five hours to develop its subtle flavors. A regional ham, Jambon d’Auvergne, and various pork sausages are also available fresh from local pig farms. Auvergne’s rivers, streams and lakes contribute a wide variety of freshwater fish to local menus: wild salmon from the Allier River, char (omble) from the Pavin Lake, pike from the Dore River, crayfish and trout from the many torrents that cascade down the mountain slopes.
Cow's milk is the foundation for some of the best Auvergnat cheeses, also called fourmes (from the wooden “form” that molds them): fourme d’Ambert, fourme du Cantal, Salers, Bleu d’Auvergne and Saint-Nectaire. If Auvergne boasts a great cheese tray, it can also claim a magnificent vegetable garden, providing, among others, fresh-grown cabbages and potatoes that are the basis of local dishes such as the truffado d’Aurillac, a creamy blend of fresh cheese and new potatoes. Cultivated in Velay since Roman times and organically grown, the green lentils of Le Puy are included in the recipes of greatest chefs who value their gossamer skins and delicate kernels.
Local deserts are mainly pastries and fruit pies. Fougasse (or fouasse) is made with a brioche dough garnished with raisins and candied fruit. Local fruits are sugared, candied and processed into mouth-watering pastes that are served by themselves as sweets. Berry-lovers can pick the abundant raspberries, blackberries and blueberries that grow wild in the forests of Cantal and Haute-Loire.Wine production is modest and limited to the hills of Limagne, the area north of Clermont-Ferrand. Local liquors based on native fruit and herbs are plentiful however, the better known being Verveine du Velay, the product of the distillation of verbena and 30 other local plants according to a 19th-century formula.