The flavours of Normandy range from coastal to country. Seafood caught fresh from the English Channel meets the rich cream provided by the cattle that graze pastoral fields and apples from the orchards that blanket the Pays d’Auge become sweet desserts and boozy libations. If your mouth is watering, here are 10 Normandy dishes you need to try on your next visit to France.
The Marmite Dieppoise is a dish that ensures no seafood is left behind. In a creamy broth combining butter, cider and crème fraîche (all from Normandy, of course) mollusks, crustaceans and fish come together in a creamy, salty fish stew that captures the flavours of the ocean. As the name implies, the dish hails from the seaside town of Dieppe, though it is seen on the menu at many restaurants throughout Normandy, especially in coastal villages.
Meadow-salted lamb (agneaux de pré salé in French) comes from the Bay of the Mont Saint-Michel and parts of the Cotentin Peninsula. Ocean water periodically permeates the fields the lambs graze, resulting in a naturally (very) salted cut of meat. This practice dates back over 1,000 years and today is designated an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) as well as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) under French law.
Tripes à la mode de Caen may be France’s version of the Scottish delicacy, Haggis, as far as its contents and general reaction from non-locals are concerned. Traditionally, the dish used all four chambers of a cow’s stomach, its hooves and bones and a part of the large intestine, though this last ingredient became banned by the French in 1996. The entrails are simmered in the oven for up to 15 hours in a tripière, a special pot intended for the process, along with root vegetables, garlic and peppercorns, a bottle of a cider and a glass of Calvados. Normans believe autumn is the best time to enjoy tripes when cattle eat the falling apples from the trees, adding to the dish’s flavour.
The traditional custom of the Trou Normand is offered either between meal courses or as a dessert. In a small glass, typically the same type used for cordials, the Normandy liqueur Calvados is poured over a tangy apple sorbet. Calvados serves as a digestif and helps to awaken the appetite, while the apple sorbet softens the flavour without compromising it. Sometimes, the Trou Normand is simply a shot of Calvados, particularly following seafood dishes, and is said to prevent indigestion.
The famous Mère Poulard omelette is renowned for its fluffy texture, served up in a 19th-century inn in the village of Mont Saint-Michel. Though the highly-guarded recipe remains a secret, speculative gourmands believe the white and yellow of the eggs are separated and whipped individually before being combined. Then, cream and butter join in before the mixture is souffléd over high-heat in a copper skillet, specifically one from the town of Villedieu-les-Poêles in Normandy.
Teurgoule is a pudding made of rice cooked in milk and sugar and topped with nutmeg and cinnamon. The mixture is baked in earthenware for several hours to create a thick, caramelized crème brûlée-like crust on top. The word teurgoule is said to be a variation of the saying ‘se tordre la goule’ meaning ‘twisting the mouth’, a reference to the dish’s hot temperature and spicier flavours in its early days. Teurgoule pairs best with a local cider and fallue, a type of Norman brioche.
The abundance of farmland and its resident dairy cows give way to some of the best cheeses in all of France. The four classics hail from the communes of Pont-l’Évêque, Livarot, Neufchâtel and Camembert, taking on their respective town’s name. Cheese from Normandy tends to be smooth and creamy with a soft rind. It’s often enjoyed as dessert and pairs well with the apple-based beverages the region famously produces.
Andouille de Vire is a sausage from Normandy’s Vire region made from pork that is cut into strips and smoked over the wood of beech trees for weeks before being encased. This artisan production is a recipe that has been passed down for centuries and emblematic of the Bocage region of Normandy, found between Caen and the Mont Saint-Michel.
What better use of the plethora of apples found in Normandy than a good old-fashioned apple tart? The dessert mostly follows a standard apple tart recipe, with a splash of Calvados and crème fraîche joining the mix for some added Norman flair. It’s best enjoyed on its own, allowing the flavour of the apple to be the star of the show, though it is sometimes served with whipped cream or salted caramel.
The Norman cow is the star yet again in the classic dish, joue de bœuf. This melt-in-your-mouth meal is beef cheek cooked with apples, cider, carrots, onions and a slew of spices and seasonings. The preparation is a lengthy process, spanning over two days of production. The finished product is a tender and flavourful beef that makes for classic comfort food.