I LOVE lunchtime in Europe! In the US, I usually have a very hurried lunch whenever I’m out on the field, often getting only 30 minutes for lunch (when I do get it) or even less. It’s really a sordid affair of having to drive to a fast food joint, shoving something really unhealthy to eat very quickly and then ultimately rush back to work. I am alone most of the time when I eat and the only company I keep is a good book or my iPad, catching up on news if I’m afforded a little bit of extra time.
In Europe, lunch takes a different meaning. It’s a great time to take a break and go home and eat with the family. Whenever I visit the in-laws in Brittany, France, I love how everyone makes the time to get together and have a meal. The lunch break is usually around 2 hours long, plenty of time to head out and do some errands and still have ample time to catch a good meal. In Dinard, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and the occasional child or two joins the family to eat together. The table talk is filled with discussions on politics, current events, gripes from the job or just plain joking around and laughter. Despite the language barrier, I’m able to participate loosely in the conversations. More often than not however, I sit quietly and listen as I eat, simply soaking in the love and enjoying the company. I thank my lucky stars that I’m part of this beautiful family.
And the food! All kinds of breads, butter, cheese, veggies and aperitifs (and wine) abound. For the main course it’s usually some sort of shellfish (and more wine). I’m not a seafood kind of guy (Gasp! – yeah, I know!) due to allergies but it’s usually the main fare on the table due to the close proximity to the sea. Everything is healthy and super delicious. My favorite lunchtime meal however is the galette. It’s the only time I get to eat this delicacy when in France.
I’m no expert but a galette is a general term used in French cuisine to describe a usually round, flat crusty cake or cookie (in Spanish, I was well familiar with the word, galleta or cookie). A Breton galette is also the name given to a lot of the foods you might find in crêperies (French bakeries) to describe delicious buckwheat flour pancakes. These thin buckwheat pancakes are typically filled with eggs, mushrooms, cheese, vegetables, ham and other meats as well as fish. The variant of the galette (called crêpes) is made from wheat flour and is a little smaller. It’s usually garnished or filled with sweets like chocolate, fruit jam, apple slices, honey, strawberries, blueberries or even just plain sugar. My daughter loves to add Nutella (hazelnut chocolate spread) to it.
Whether at home with the family or out and about in Brittany, I always have to have this meal at least once during my vacation abroad. On this particular day, we all went out to eat at an outdoor cafe in Saint-Malo.
If you’re ever in France (or perhaps at your local French restaurant), give the Breton galette a try. Fill it up with anything you like and have a feast. Afterward for a quick dessert, try a crêpe with apple slices, jam or some sugar. Try something new for lunch today or tomorrow. You won’t regret it!