Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Normandy – epilogue

By the time we had finished our snack lunch at l’Huitrière in Quiberville, a small crowd had gathered by the seafront. Curious as ever, we wanted to find out what was going on.

We left the restaurant and joined the group of people that was walking towards the small fish stalls along the road. From afar we saw a bunch of black flags sticking out over the stalls. What had happened? Had a fishing boat been reported missing or were the fishermen protesting against the limited EC quota for cod?

What do these flags stand for?

Even more cars and people were arriving. This was getting very intriguing! When we finally reached the fish stalls all became clear. No missing boat or strike … Apparently two of the local boats had just come in with their catch of the day, which they were unloading to be sold directly to the people who had been awaiting their arrival.

And the flags? They were just a bunch of signal flags, which the fishermen attach to their nets to indicate their position once they’ve been set out.

The assortment of fish that was being laid out by the fishermen’s wives was impressive and very varied: cod, plaice, small pinkish sea trout, mackerel, herring, whelks, etc. We were surprised to see the size of the cods, as these little boats fish close to the coast, and we always thought that large cods lived in the deeper waters.

And we learned another thing too. In Flemish cod is called ‘Kabeljauw’, which resembles the Portuguese ‘Bakelau’ which is salted, dried cod. In Belgium a cod is called ‘Cabillaud’ in French. In France, however, the fish - alive or before it is cut into slices – is called a ‘Morue’. Once it is cut into slices or fillets, it becomes a ‘Cabillaud’. Extraordinary, if you know that ‘Morue’ is the French name we use in Belgium for ‘Bakelau’. Are your still with me on this?

But back to the stalls! I asked one of the women selling the fish, whether it was okay if I took a photo. She had no objection, and here is the result.

We were tempted to buy some fresh fish for our supper later at the cottage, but with the stove being out of order we thought it better to stick to our fish soup, cheese, ham and goose ‘rillettes’ that we had bought the previous day in Dieppe.

We leisurely made our way back to Saint-Valéry-en-Caux, where we had a glass of champagne in the lounge bar of the local casino, watching the tide roll in. By the time we got to the cottage, the sun was going down and we settled in for another cosy evening in front of the open fire place.

Casino of  Saint-Valéry-en-Caux

The next morning around 10 a.m. we said goodbye to our hosts and drove back to Brussels, where we arrived at about 3 p.m., after a lunch stop just across the Belgian border.

Well, this was my last post in the series about the ‘Côte d’Albâtre’ in Normandy! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share our short journey with you. Tomorrow we’ll return to everyday life here in Belgium. I hope you’ll join me then too.



chm said...

That was a very interesting and lively series on Normandy.

That would be Haute-Normandie in French. Because the better known Normandy, south of the Seine River to the Mont-Saint-Michel is called Basse-Normandie, what else!

As it is with blogs, you learn something, big or small, every day. There is no difference with yours.

Just like Ken, you missed the boat. You should have been a writer. And a good one at that.

But, who knows? Better late than never!

Jean said...

I have really enjoyed your "Tales from Normandy" and look forward to whatever comes next.

No pressure .......!!

ladybird said...

chm, Thank you. As you know, writing has always been a hobby of mine and I'm lucky to have found a job as a copywriter, although the subjects I have to deal with at work are less entertaining :)

Jean, I'm glad you liked it. After this little French extravaganza I feel a Belgian week coming up!