Bon Appétit: Breton Cuisine
Just a stone’s throw from the UK, the North West tip of France could be construed as having more than a passing British influence – especially with a name like Brittany. In fact, the region prescribes neither to the French way of living, nor to the British: a uniquely independent area, the Breton culture is best exemplified by its cuisine.
While enjoying the best that France has to offer, there are some unmistakeably Breton dishes, most often borne from its sea-facing location and the appreciation of simple pleasures. To tantalise the taste buds, the Flexicover team has found its five favourite dishes. If they get your mouth watering, remember that the real thing is a mere ferry ride away.
Paper-thin pancakes are traditional across France and adored around the world, but the dish was created in Brittany where it’s a culinary staple. Crêpes are eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with fillings as simple as salted butter, or elaborate as chestnut cream. More often, you’ll buy them from a vendor on the street or one of the many crêperies in Brittany, and opt for a sweet filling (Nutella and banana is a melt-in-mouth combo). Don’t let its thinness deceive you – the snack is filling enough to leave both the sweet tooth and belly satisfied.
With 2,800km of coast, fishing is one of Brittany’s main industries; in fact it produces 80 per cent of France’s shellfish. That’s a strong assurance that the restaurants in Brittany serve only the freshest of seafood and it explains the prominence of the seafood platter, which showcases the range that Brittany’s seas can offer. On a bed of seaweed and served with breads, butter and mayonnaise, expect to see sea staples like spider crabs, prawns, langoustines, oysters, clams and cockles in addition to more unusual nibbles like the periwinkle and abalone, a shellfish not found in the UK because of the one degree difference in water temperature. This grand dish is usually served for at least two to share, so rope in a pal or loved one for this seafood feast.
The unusually-named Kouign amann is a traditional Breton pastry, taking the place of croissants in the daily intake. To make the naughty treat, dough, butter and sugar are folded over together in a manner similar to puff pastry. It’s then sprinkled with crunchy brown sugar and baked, so that the top caramelises and the butter adds a moreish richness to the pastry. Despite its tastiness, it’s not as ubiquitous outside of Brittany, except for a short spell in the limelight when it was featured as a technical challenge in the Great British Bake Off back in 2014. Evidently, it’s not as easy to make as it is to enjoy.
So popular are their pancake products that galettes need to be mentioned too. The word is used to describe different types of flat cakes and pastry-type dishes, but in the traditional Breton sense, galettes are similar to crêpes but made with buckwheat flour, which give it a greyish tinge and mean they’re better suited to savoury fillings. Often served as a meal rather than a snack, ham and cheese are the most popular fillings, but other ingredients include leek, cream, fish and fried eggs – a testament to its tastiness and versatility.
Kig ha farz
Bretons aren’t fancy with their food. Like much of rustic France, they rely on creating simple dishes with good ingredients and no more is that seen as with Kig ha farz. A traditional meal meaning ‘meat and stuffing’, it’s created by adding buckwheat flour and egg in a stringed bag which slow-cooks in the stock of stewing meat and vegetables. Once cooked, the buckwheat dough breaks up into a cous-cous-like substance, making for a one-pot meal that’s low effort but high in taste.
So if you fancy heading to Brittany to sample these delectable dishes for yourself, or you plan to head elsewhere to enjoy your downtime, it’s good to know that Flexicover Travel Insurance is committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure you are safe and secure 24 hours a day when away.