Sunday, 1 August 2010

Moules Frites and Marmite

Normandy is a gastroperson's delight. We've eaten al fresco every night: delicious barbecued meat and poultry along with fresh vegetables such as courgettes and french beans from the garden. The temperature has been hitting 30 degrees during the day and sustaining 18-20 even into the grasshopper-chirruping, starry-skied nights. Good red wine has not been hard to come by.

We've also eaten out (as in out out) a couple of times. Last night I had a superb pot of a kind of creamy seafood stew/chowder called 'Marmitte'. I say 'chowder' but Marmitte is really much too rich and thick to be classed a soup. We think it was made of a scallop stock bechamel base along with a great deal of garlic, cheese, cream and spinach. To this sumptuous (and extremely hot) concoction chunks of salmon and white fish were added.

Today we had lunch in a beautiful and typically-French-looking historic village a few miles from here. Our host at the local relais was also typically-French-looking, and sounding: great Gallic lungs threatening his wrath if we didn't partake of and enjoy every morsel of his fare. There we ate moules frites - also typically French. The first time my sister mentioned moules frites I thought it must be something to do with fried mussels but it's actually just what it sounds like: mussels with chips. Somehow it works - the tasty and crunchy frites are perfect for dunking in the liquor from the moules. Others in our group ate boudin noir - a very rich French black pudding - along with slices of apple.

Tonight we'll be tucking into cuisses de grenouille - frogs legs. Most of us have never tried them before but I reckon that a day of doing all this typically French stuff just wouldn't be complete without munching on a bit of unfortunate amphibian.

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