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Normandy Cuisine Foods from France

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Normandy is a region full of fields and orchards, which in turn means that there are plenty of cows and fruit and so food in Normandy tends to be based on these products. In fact, milk from cows in Normandy makes up about half of France's milk, butter, cheese and cream.

In Normandy cuisine dairy products like butter and cream are often used in the rich, thick sauces that accompany fish, meat and vegetable dishes. Veal (veau) is popular and sometimes cooked in the Vallée d'Auge style with cream and butter, and mussel soup is made with stock, white wine and cream.

Normandy cheeses include the ubiquitous Camembert, which has been around since William the Conqueror's days. Other interesting and typical varieties include Neufchatel (or Bondon), the soft and square Pont l'Eveque, and the stronger, round Livarot.

As well as being renowned for using dairy products, Normandy cuisine has a reputation for favouring meat, including tripe. This is cooked à la mode de Caen where ox or calf trotters are put in a clay pot with the tripe, onions, leeks, herbs and cider or Calvados, then cooked very slowly. Rouen has built a name for preferring duck dishes. The ducks are strangled in order to preserve the blood in the body to be used in the sauces. One such dish is canard à la rouennaise but there are many variations. Intestinal delights such as andouilles (sausages made from chitterlings) are also common fodder.

It isn't all blood and guts though. Seafood is very popular in Normandy cuisine and Trouville and Honfleur make notable contributions to this kind of food. An assiette de fruits de mer will include langoustines, lobsters, crayfish, prawns, scallops, oysters and mussels that have all been caught and brought to shore nearby, ensuring their freshness. Scallops, or coquilles St Jacques, are particularly delicious here. Did you know that the male part of the hermaphrodite scallop is white, and the orange part is female? Fish markets abound along the coast, with fish often coming straight off the boats on to the stalls.

Fruit from the orchards, especially apples, is used in Normandy cuisine. Local cider is often included in meat and poultry dishes, and it comes as either doux (sweet) or brut (dry). The apple juice is further distilled to make brandies like Calvados and Poire Williams. The most well known variety of Calvados is the Vallée d'Auge Calvados. The aperitif pommade is made from adding cider to Calvados (it is very alcoholic!) and 'Calva', as it is affectionately known, is frequently used in sauces and desserts.