Each region of France is known for its signature food, drink, or dish, and Normandy is no exception. And they're easy to remember, too – just think of the three C's: camembert, calvados, and cider! Let's take a closer look at these three crucial elements of the Normandy food experience.
Like many beloved French delicacies, camembert gets its name from the place where it was invented and continues to be made – Camembert. To many it seems like a stinkier brie, and it's no coincidence; the Norman farmer who first made camembert did so under the supervision of someone from the village of Brie.
Camembert typically is sold in small wheels wrapped up and placed in seemingly crudely made wooden boxes, largely unchanged from its original packaging once it started to be produced on a commercial level in the late 19th century. If you want to bake it, simply open it up and stick the entire thing in the oven. Convenient!
Again, this is a product that comes from none other than Calvados, in Normandy. The region is known for its apples, and the French being, well, French, they found a way to turn this fruit into an alcoholic drink. First it was cider, and then with further distillation and aging processes lasting at least two years, calvados is born. As with many brandies, the longer it ages the smoother it becomes.
Commonly drunk as an after-dinner drink, it's usually referred to as “calva” when ordered. It can be served alongside coffee, or with an apple sorbet.
As mentioned above, the French have a knack for turning fruit into alcohol, and calvados is traditionally distilled apple cider. But this isn't the cloudy beverage you get after apple picking with the family; it's not for kids, although with only about 4 percent alcohol content, it's not the strongest drink in the world. It's usually sparkling and sold in wine-type bottles.
The Route du Cidre may be in Normandy, but this is one Norman treat that is just as popular in Brittany, its neighboring region to the south. This is why the kir Breton and the kir Normand is the same cocktail: while a normal kir is made with white wine and cassis liqueur, this kir replaces the wine with sparkling cider. It's a sweet, tasty treat that awakens the appetite, but be careful – it's a deceptively strong drink that will make you forget about dinner altogether.