Friday, 7 November 2014

Breton connections

My mum is sending me about 20 kgs of Breton biscuits next week. You've read it right. In fairness, a lot of those biscuits are presents for my colleagues. They just love them and there's always a bit of excitement in the office every time I receive a package full of Breton delights. This time, it's the last one, so everyone at work will taste a bit of Brittany before I leave for good. They all have their favorite. One of the managers love the chocolate-orange biscuits, another one always ask for "brioche" and one of my colleague couldn't contain his joy when I told him he would get a kouing-amann (literally "butter cake"), or "Cholesterol bomb", as he calls it...

I love when my mum sends me food packages. The thing is, I don't actively look for anything Breton in shops around here (because I could be looking for months, really). I'm satisfied enough with what supermarkets have to offer, and I didn't come to Ireland to eat the same cuisine than at home (actually, I didn't come to Ireland for the food, that's for sure!). But I think it's nice to taste a bit of home once in a while.

Sometimes I get surprised by the Breton stuff I can find around though, and yes, I get very excited whenever I discover little bits of my country when I go shopping.

A few months after I moved to Ireland, I went to the off-licence and do you know what I found in one of the fridges? A Breton Camembert! In a place where they sell alcohol? Seriously? I got all excited about it (I don't need much, I know), until I spotted the price: 5.99 Euros! Clearly, it was the only Camembert they imported from Brittany to sell it at that price, or maybe it was branded as a luxury product, to eat with their finest French Red wine (It was the Celtic tiger era after all)... I didn't find out. I was just shocked and left. Without my beloved Breton Camembert.

5.99 euros for that??

Last year, in Dunnes Stores clothes section, I saw this striped shirt, a typical Breton fashion item. 

I thought to myself " That's funny, a Breton shirt in an Irish shop!" And then I looked at the tag:

I really think Dunnes Stores has someone on the inside who is either Breton or passionate about the region, because a couple of months ago, this is what I read in their leaflet :

The last line reads "Bretonne Baguette"

A Bretonne baguette?!! I was so intrigued I asked the manager of my local Dunnes Stores if he knew who could possibly have come up with that name. Unfortunately, I was told the bread was made by Cuisine de France and that they were just selling it. 
So I contacted them, but sadly, I was informed they didn't make that bread. Back to square one, I sent an email to Dunnes stores Customer Service but they never came back to me. So I guess I will never know...

Another Breton delicacy famous throughout the world is the "crêpe". Because my mum makes the best ones, and I also can make my own on the traditional bilig (crêpe maker), I can be very picky when it comes to taste.

At the Drogheda Maritime Festival two years ago, there were of course a few "crêpes" stands. I was pretty sure they used the same horrible mix for sweet and savory crêpes but I decided to try one, just for the craic, although I made sure to ask what type of flour was used ( At this stage, you must really think I'm a freak).

"Oh, don't worry, I use buckwheat flour. I'm from Northern Ireland but I was trained in Brittany, in a crêperie" the seller told me.

So I bought one and I have to say, it was delicious. I was about to leave when the guy hailed at me:

"Wait, I'll show you something"

He went to his car, and came back with that:
A Northern Irish crepe maker, who drives around with a Breton flag in the boot...

I knew Irish people liked Brittany, obviously because of the Celtic connection, but I didn't think that some shops would actually try to sell products branded as "Breton" or that Irish people would learn how to make crêpes. 
Maybe I should make a business of selling Breton biscuits in Ireland. Who knows, it might just work!