Brittany Stories and Tips

Pancake land: food in Brittany

Cup of cider, Crozon's Ble Noir Photo, Brittany, France

People often talk about ''French food'' as if it was a clearly defined thing, universal and pretty much the same across the whole country. And yet, although there are many similarities in the way the French people eat, there is a great variety in what is eaten and drunk.

Obvioulsy, large supermarket chains and existence of nationally popular dishes make those regional differences less pronounced and easier to avoid, but they are still very much there and should be explored and cherished.

Brittany is surrounded by sea on three sides and is famous in France for its Atlantic beaches and for seafood, including both fish and shellfish. A typical seafood platter might have crabs, prawns and shrimps, clams and oysters. Moules Marinières are a national dish, but best eaten near to the source of mussels in question. Oysters are common on Brittany coast and you can see people collecting them from rocks for their own use on many beaches.

For me, Brittany will forever remind the land of the pancake – the crepe. Crepe is nothing but a thin, fairly large pancake. In Brittany, crepes come in a number of savoury and sweet versions, with the savoury ones being often made from buckwheat (ble noir – literally black wheat) flour and the sweet one, made almost invariably from white wheat flour.

A typical set lunch in a Brittany creperie (and there is one of those on every corner) will include a savoury buckwheat crepe (actually called galette), a sweet white flour crepe and a cup (''boule'') of warmed cider. Cider is THE drink of Brittany; although wine is commonly bought and drunk as in the whole of France, it's not really grown or produced in the region.

The stuffing for the crepes vary from very simple (sugar) to more complex (the ''complete'' which consists of eggs and cheese with bacon or ham). Unless eaten with a substantial filling, these are not particularly big meals, and are an equivalent of a sandwich lunch. Prices vary by creperie, but usually will start at 2-3 Euro for a cheapest ones and go to as much as 8-10 Euro for the most expensive ones which might include fruit, chocolate sauce, various eau de vie and similar.

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