Seafood abounds in Normandy: oysters, mussels, scallops, crab and lobster, not to mention fish of all kinds – plaice, cod, coley, turbot, sole and brill, to name but a few . The region also has a cult drink – cider. But that isn’t its only favourite tipple, as every meal has to have camembert and a trou normand on the menu: a little glass of Calvados apple brandy to stimulate the appetite...
Obviously, Normandy’s long agricultural tradition means that meat takes pride of place in Normandy cuisine. Salt-marsh lamb is prized for the special flavour it gets from grazing the salty pastures of the Mont-Saint-Michel area and the Cotentin peninsula. But its beef is equally famous, particularly in recipes based on offal, for example, Tripes à la Mode de Caen, La Ferté-Macé tripe skewers and Andouille de Vire tripe sausage. There is plenty of poultry in Normandy too, including chicken, turkey, capon, guinea fowl and geese...as well as farm-bred milk-fed and suckling veal.
Seafood comes straight to your plate, as fresh as can be: oysters from Isigny-sur-Mer, prawns from Honfleur, scallops from Grandcamp-Maisy, mussels from Barfleur (delicious with Normandy cream!) and the little lobsters known as Demoiselles de Cherbourg. Eels from Marais Vernier are hardly seafood, it’s true, but their excellent reputation means that they cannot possibly be ignored!
In addition to its butter and cream, Normandy produces a variety of delicious cheeses, such as Pont-l’Évêque, Neufchâtel, Boursin, Brique de Lisieux, Brillat-savarin, Pavé d’Auge, etc. Camembert tart is another of the region’s mouthwatering recipes.
Normandy apples are used to make desserts, tarts and cakes, as well as cider and Calvados apple brandy. They are even served alongside meat, particularly pork. Originally, a trou normand was a little glass of Calvados served between two courses to stimulate diners’ appetites. Nowadays, however, it usually comes in the form of a sorbet sprinkled with a measure of Calvados.
Find out more about Calvados
It’s hard to say exactly when Calvados first made its appearance, but it is mentioned in writing for the first time in the 16th century! 200 different varieties of cider apple are distilled to make the brandy, which can be enjoyed as an after-dinner drink or in the guise of the famous trou normand, as well as being used in delicious desserts.