Jul 21, 2007

Marmite Dieppoise (3) : Ingredients and Products of Normandy

Normandy is famous for its rich, rolling countryside, which provides plentiful pasture for dairy cattle and orchards for apples. The dairy produce of the region is renowned: its cheeses are world famous and include Camembert, Livarot, Pont l'Evêque, Brillat-Savarin, Neufchâtel, Petit Suisse and Boursin. Normandy butter is highly prized, as is Normandy cream, e.g. beurre et crème d’Isigny (AOC), both of which are lavishly used in local gastronomic specialties. Fish and seafood are of superior quality in Normandy. Turbot and oysters from the Cotentin Peninsula are major delicacies throughout France. Normandy is the chief oyster-cultivating, as well the biggest scallop-exporting, region in France.

Normandy is a major cider-producing region (very little wine is produced). Poiré (pear cider or Perry) is also produced, but in less significant quantities. The apple brandy, of which the most famous variety is Calvados, is also popular. The mealtime trou Normand, or Norman break, is a pause between meal courses in which diners partake of a glassful of calvados, is still observed in many homes and restaurants. Pommeau is an aperitif produced by blending unfermented cider and apple brandy. Another aperitif is the kir Normand, a measure of cassis topped up with cider. Bénédictine is produced in Fécamp.

Apples are also used in cooking: for example, moules à la normande are mussels cooked with apples and cream, bourdelots are apples baked in pastry, partridges are flamed with reinette apples, and localities all over the province have their own variation of apple tart. A classic pastry dish from the region is flan Normand, a pastry-based variant of the apple tart.

Other regional specialities include tripes à la mode de Caen, andouilles and andouillettes, salt meadow (pré salé) lamb, seafood (mussels, scallops, lobsters, mackerel…), and teurgoule (spiced rice pudding).

Normandy dishes include duckling à la rouennaise, sautéed chicken yvetois, and goose en daube. Rabbit is cooked with morels, or à la havraise (stuffed with truffled pigs' trotters). Other dishes are sheep's trotters à la rouennaise, casseroled veal, larded calf's liver braised with carrots, and veal (or turkey) in cream and mushrooms.

Normandy is also noted for its pastries. It is the birthplace of brioches (especially those from Evreux and Gisors) and also turns out douillons (pears baked in pastry), craquelins, roulettes in Rouen, fouaces in Caen, fallues in Lisieux, sablés in Lisieux. Confectionery of the region includes Rouen apple sugar, Isigny caramels, Bayeux mint chews, Falaise berlingots, Le Havre marzipans, Argentan croquettes, and Rouen macaroons.

Normandy is the native land of Taillevent, cook of the kings of France Charles V and Charles VI. He wrote the earliest French cookery book named Le Viandier. Confiture de lait was also made in Normandy around the 14th century.

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