Tuesday 16 January 2007

Vegan in Normandie

It's the new year - I feel the need to explain something that may not have been clear from previous posts. It seems important just at this time to state our position on veganism. Maybe I've been reading too many food blogs these last couple of days.

So we're vegan and we're living in one of, possibly the most, unaccommodating places in the world for vegans. Every local foodstuff uses animal produce, all the cheeses, all the cream, butter, the local oysters and mussels from the coast, the salt lamb, the veal and right down to the tripe of the local gourmands is produced by the exploitation and death of animals - the whole economy is built upon it. All the patisserie relies on butter and eggs and the sweets and puddings are drowned in cream. This is the food of the peasant and landowner alike, there is no cuisine maigre to fall back upon. A local without access to these foodstuffs would be deemed to be starving indeed.

As you can imagine, we don't eat out much and attempts at the art of traditional french cooking are limited. In fact, of all the varied recipes of France I can think of only one dish, the sadly abused ratatouille, that can be classed as vegan in its entirety.

But all is not lost. The Frenchman, bless his hypochondriacal soul, has a regard for his liver that is almost religious and as a result it is often possible to obtain the essential foodstuffs of life, tofu, yeast products, veggie burgers even, by reference to the health food sections of the supermarket. Soya yoghurt and rice cakes are available for those taking a cure and an influx of good German vegan products to the health food shops of the larger towns means that some convenience at mealtimes can be acquired when cooking fatigue or xenophobia seems about to set in.

Another positive aspect to the area is the agricultural nature of the terrain. We are favoured with sandy coastal soils which grow excellent carrots and leeks, the many orchards provide plenty of fruit and traditional character of French commerce ensures that many items are locally and lovingly produced in market gardens for the vegetable stalls and supermarkets.

And there is a tiny breath of change stirring in the populace. The organic movement is growing and with it an awareness of farming technique and the exigencies of intensive animal production.

Our plan to offer vegan meals may yet gather customers from the native population as well as the holidaymakers we hope to entice as soon as the buildings can be put in order to receive them.

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