Written by Rebecca Johnson
As I start to write this piece, I feel a little guilty. Upon attempting to put my finger on it, I realise it’s because I feel as though I’m reporting a crime...
I’m currently spending my year abroad in Rouen, a city in Normandy, France. Situated in the north of France, food here appears to be the focus of Rouennais life. Naturally, I have made an effort to try many bars, restaurants, and cafés here, and I’d be lying if I said that my days don’t tend to revolve around food. From adapting to French supermarkets, to testing all the local hot chocolates, missing aspects of British cuisine (although arguably this might not be the best word to describe English food ! ), to enjoying frequent meals with my host family; food consumes my thoughts here ! So, in that spirit, I’d like to share the most intriguing thing I have eaten here so far.
Crêpes are something of a specialty here in Normandy, and in Brittany too, and I have to admit that I’d never even had a galette before arriving in Normandy around 10 weeks ago. A galette is essentially a savoury crêpe, often served with an egg, potatoes, cheese, and meat inside, although many filling variations exist.
In fact, the variety of food that can be put inside a galette is extensive, often seen as absurd , as I discovered a few weeks ago when I first tried what could be described as a crime against French cuisine. I was revisiting a crêperie, however this time it was a galette I was after, rather than a sweet crêpe. As I scanned the menu, I came across something that both shocked and intrigued me: une galette burger. A burger galette. Yes, you read that correctly. I continued to read, and came across the description. The menu listed steak haché, Emmental, onions, and ketchup.
I resolved that since I hadn't designed such a meal, or even to put it on the menu, choosing it would hardly be participating in the crime of butchering (pun very much intended ! ) the French crêpe. The waiter hardly batted an eyelid at my choice, which helped to calm my worries - maybe I wouldn’t be driven out of France in shame after all !
When my burger galette arrived, I knew I’d made a great decision. The galette was incredible, and somehow the combination of the hearty, greasy American food mixed with the delicate French counterpart made perfect sense. It was delicious, and it definitely tasted like a burger. Yet, the galette was simultaneously airy, lifting the meal a little. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that this dish was a ‘match made in heaven’, but it was certainly an incredible, if not surprising, combination. Nutritional value? Very minimal. Yet when I left, I was satisfied, bemused, and overall pleased with my choice.
So, if a quirky combination and delicious meal is a crime against French cuisine, then I regret my part in it. However, I’m sure I wasn’t the first to order such a dish, and I certainly won’t be the last. I’m not the most adventurous when it comes to food, but it paid off this time. If you ever come across something similar, I encourage you to embrace the absurdity of it, and you might be pleasantly surprised.