A giant rat and French cheese
Normandy September 2015
After a good home cooked lunch, we made our way to the seaside. After our drive there we were impatient to see the ocean, well the English Channel to be precise.
We hopped into the car and drove for about 5 minutes to Porte-en-Bessin and parked in the harbour. It was about to be the moment of high tide when we started to go on our walk at the foot of the cliffs. The windy weather and a toddler in tow made it particularly difficult for us to move forward. I stopped to take a look back, thinking that I had walked quite a distance, but no I had not advanced more than a few hundred meters.
Suddenly S ushered me to be quiet. He had seen something behind the rocks. There was an animal, shivering with the cold, looking at us with its big black eyes. It was a huge rodent but not as big as the Capybaras I had seen in Lille. With a very long tail, and impressive claws it looked like a giant rat. Later driven by curiosity, I checked what it was. We had made the encounter with a Nutria, or a Coypu. They are originally from South America but were imported to Europe and North America for their fur. Like it is often the case, some were released into the wild and others escaped. Today they are generally considered an invasive species.
Before and after meeting our hairy friend, I contemplated the seashells that could be found here. I still remember that as a child I was always longing to find the big beautiful seashells with a bowtie. Now, having found a whole lot of them, without searching, I guess that I had never been at the right place before. Here king scallops or Coquilles Saint Jacques were present in great numbers, to know just how many I had to wait for the next day and low tide.
Another quest that I remember from growing up was the search for stones with a hole in them. Each time I walked on a beach I was on a lookout for ocean jewellery. I might have found some, but for me it was always so difficult. Here after about five minutes of walking I held a beautiful holed stone in my hands. I guess that I am no longer of an age where I can wear them as a pendant on my neck, but still.
When traveling to other places, the local food is always something important. Here in a fishing harbour, we really wanted to eat some fish. As we had arrived on a Monday, there was no fish to be found, as in Porte-en-Bessin the day off for the fish market is Monday.
Being in Normandy, we made sure to stock up with plenty of regional products. That means mainly cheese and crème fraiche. We enjoyed a Pont l’Eveque, a Livarot, and the obligatory Camembert. My personal favourite was the Pont l’Eveque. Though we did not do so on purpose all of our products were from the fromagerie E.Graindorge, and we were not deceived in the slightest.
We love to eat fruit, and thought that we might find some Normandy apples. Normandy is known for its apples, and apple products such as Calvados… We thought that were hallucinating, there were no local apples. The apples were from the South of France. Do I even have to write what I think of that?
© Solveig Werner 2015. All rights reserved.