Row upon row of pungent racks of kite-shaped, yellowish flaps of salt cod, hard as planks, once hung in every fish market of Languedoc. Beneath stood the fishmongers, busy with their miniature guillotines for cutting up the cod, which were kept constantly slicing down, as the housewives queued for their morue. There are reputed to be three hundred salt cod recipes; it is eaten with béchamel sauce, potatoes, haricot beans, with peppers, chillies, tomatoes, olives, whole heads of garlic, with capers, anchovies and with cabbage, with rice, with honey, with chick peas – with everything. In Mediterranean France, this was the one dish you were certain to see on the tables of peasants as well as the bourgeoisie and aristocracy throughout the year. Traditionally it is eaten during Lent, when the sky is a tender blue, the pink peach blossom is in flower and there is still snow on the mountain tops.