Friday 24 August 2012

This week is Brittany Week !

As you know, I'm a Sterimar Mummy Ambassador and this week, on their facebook page, Sterimar are celebrating the heritage of Sterimar. Did you know that Sterimar originates from France and uses sea water from pollution-sensitive oyster beds on the coast of Brittany?

Well, you may remember me telling you that Madhouse Daddy Mike hails from Brittany, more precisely a small town called Daoulas in Finistere. That translates as Land's End, which is quite apt because Brittany is just opposite Cornwall and there are numerous similarities, from the wild coastline to the mystic standing stones and even the language. While Cornish and Breton were separate languages, they had enough similarities for a Cornishman and a Breton to understand each other if each of them spoke their own language. Both languages pretty much died out at the start of the last century, but regional groups are trying to promote them and keep them alive.

We were visiting Madhouse Daddy Mike's family last week. Needless to say, with Breton in-laws, I've sampled a fair few Breton specialities in my time. Most Breton food is what the French call "peasant" food - good, old-fashioned, put-some-meat-on-your-bones home-cooking, such as meaty stews, fishy casseroles or wonderfully indulgent, buttery cakes and desserts. Here's a quick guide to the unmissable Breton foods to sample and I'll give you a couple of recipes to try at home in a separate blogpost.

Things to buy in the supermarkets :

-strawberries from Plougastel - famed for the long gariguette variety and known as the Rolls Royce of all strawberries ! They can be savoured either as fresh strawberries or made into jam or strawberry liqueur.

- salted butter (creamy dairy butter studded with big crystals of salt - yum !)

- salted butter caramel which can come as a spread (like jam) or mixed into ice cream

- prepacked (but freshly made) crêpes (lacy pancakes so thin you can almost see through them)

- cloudy appley cider, which can be "sweet" (doux) or "strong" (brut)

- chouchen, an extremely sweet honey liqueur

- Coreff - the local "Guinness"

pink onions from Roscoff (this is where the onion sellers, known as "Roscoff Johnnies", came from on bicycles with strings of onions round their necks to sell them in England !)

- seaweed - you can buy jars of seaweed, which apparently tastes a bit like green beans, although I've never fancied trying it.

Things to eat in restaurants :

- pancakes - start with a savoury one ("complète" is very popular - a savoury buckwheat pancake filled with ham, egg and cheese - followed by a sweet one - I recommend pear and chocolate or banana and chocolate, but you can get crêpes with just about any fillings you can think of, from seafood to foie gras !)

- seafood platters, crab, fresh fish "à l'armoricaine"

If I've made you feel hungry now, don't miss the Breton dessert recipes I'll be posting later in  the week !

You might be able to find some of these delicacies in French farmers' markets that come over to the UK, or else in one of the many online stores specialising in French products.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

McCain Wedges Summer of Sharing Recipe #3 : French Nicoise Salad
 Classic French recipe #2 : Pierrade
Classic French recipe #1 : Raclette

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