09 September 2011

Gypsy Kitchens: Foraging for Galettes

Creperies outnumber cafes, bistrots or brasseries in Bretagne. This is their place of origin and the galette has been a staple food for centuries, as the buckwheat from which they are made is a hearty, durable grain that can be grown in barren places. It's more popular sister, the crepe (made from wheat flour), came around a lot later. She may often be sweeter, but she's got a lot less substance. We prefer the savory variety and were in fine position to enjoy two simple, no-cook meals that felt almost elegant, wrapped in market fresh galettes.
Our campsite is next door to Abbaye de Beauport, a beautiful, half ruined/artfully preserved abbey dating back to 1202. Its front yard is filled with lambs, Shetland ponies and - most importantly - blackberry bushes. So, one morning, we went over and gathered some berries in the last bits of sherbet dawn light. A few joggers passed through and there were already footprints in the dewey grass where another forager had been. Gently thorned and thistled, we emerged from the bushes with a small, plump bounty.
Two little glass jars of thick, sheep yogurt and a drizzle of Kingdom Mountain Farm (VT) maple syrup and we were done! There have been so many mornings where we've wished we could just whip up some pancakes for breakfast, and we could if we just bit the bullet and bought some flour. (The bags are always just too big). This felt somewhat the same, involved no cooking, no cleanup that couldn't be done by fork and felt wonderfully local.
The galettes were a little less stale the day before, at lunch. We purchased six from a cart at the impressive Paimpol Tuesday market and then went about trying to figure out what exactly we were going to do with them. Our solution was to treat them like tortillas and just fill them on up until they were dense enough to hold and bite into. A "food log," some may say. Red leaf lettuce made up most of the bulk, along with Tunisian salad from a traiteur, a ripe tomato and a curry-mussel spread from a local canned fish shop.
But we couldn't walk away from the market with just that! So, of course, there was cheese. And a small leek quiche that was much lighter and airier than expected. The tunisian salad had some shredded cheese in it (along with cabbage and raisin), so there was no need to include this fromage in our galettes. We were more than happy to munch on them solo. They were mostly similar, both soft, washed rind cow cheeses, but the wedge of langres had this great layered texture that went from rind to lactic gooey goodness to an almost powdery doughiness at the center. The galettes may have staled a little overnight, but these only got better with age.
In Paimpol, galettes are almost always eaten with a pitcher of cider, sipped from these dainty little cups. Being as our galette meals were breakfast and lunch, we refrained. Though, looking back, a bottle of nonalcoholic cider may have been nice.

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