Wales

Euro 2016: Wales fans try the French Welsh rarebit in Lille

Image caption Wales fans get stuck into the Welsh at QG Brasserie

Football fans in Lille for Wales' Euro 2016 clash with Belgium on Friday could be surprised to find they are not the only Welsh in the city.

"Le Welsh" is a specialty dish of the Nord-pas-de-Calais region.

But what does the French take on Welsh rarebit taste like?

BBC Wales asked some fans in Lille for the quarter-final to give their verdict.

The Welsh, or the Welch as it is sometimes called, tends to consist of toasted bread, ham, egg and cheese melted in beer, although there are different variations.

Clive Francis, 54, chairman of the Cardiff City Supporters' Club, said he thought it did bring back a certain memory of home.

"I think the cheese gives it the Welsh edge," he said.

And Mr Francis, of Bridgend, said he thought it would appeal to the tens of thousands of Wales supporters expected in Lille for Friday's game.

"I think it's presented really well and I think it's really filling. It's really tasty."

Links between Welsh rarebit and the French Welsh are unclear.

There have long been suggestions the term Welsh rarebit was derived from a dish popular in south Wales almost 300 years ago.

However, this is often disputed, with some pointing out that the word "Welsh" was a term used by the English to mean "foreign".

Culinary experts have identified numerous adaptations of Welsh, English and Scotch rarebit, among others in Europe, dating back as far as the 18th Century.

Regardless, the dish of hot cheese sauce poured over toasted bread is now conventionally held up as a staple of Welsh cuisine.

Andrew James, 47, of Deri, near Bargoed, in Caerphilly county, said of its French cousin: "It's full of flavour - a very strong flavour. The cheese is very powerful."

Lille is less than 10 miles (16km) from the Belgian border and beer from the neighbouring country is often used to melt the cheese for the Welsh.

There are numerous restaurants around the city that offer it and, for those in the food industry, the Welsh is a must-try for anyone visiting Lille.

Jordan Gauthier, 26, sous chef at Le QG Brasserie, said: "The Welsh is the famous dish of the north of France. It's very popular."

He said the classic version amounted to melted cheese with beer over bread, mustard and ham, all served with a fried egg.

But his restaurant also offers varieties with beef, chicken or potato pancake, garnished with chips or salad.

It holds a special place in the hearts of the people in this region.

"When I was young, if I went to a restaurant, I ate the Welsh," Mr Gauthier said.

But Paul Corkery, of the Football Supporters' Federation Cymru, said as much as he had enjoyed the dish and French food in general, there was one ingredient on which the home of Le Cordon Bleu simply could not compete.

"Lamb," he said. "Welsh lamb, best in the world."

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