When in France…

oysters from MarennesOne of my favourite things about travelling is understanding the local customs. Trying, for the short period of time that I’m there, to fit in and live their life for a while; drink their drinks, visit their local places of interest and more importantly try their food.

Our recent holiday in France was another of my trying out periods and one product Charente Maritime is very popular for is huitres or oysters to you and me. Now oysters aren’t an every day food product for us, the last time I had them Paul and I were on our way to Washington and we had stopped off at the beautiful town Annapolis. We found a fabulous restaurant looking over the harbour and ordered oysters which came prepared and served on a bed of ice, a delicious meal.

So when I saw all the huitres farms dotted over the local area I knew trying was a must. We took a short trip to Marennes – Cite de l’huitres and explored the town centre and market place.

Marennes cite de la huitre

With my pigeon French I managed to ask a fish seller where we could buy some oysters and I understood his directions (miracle) and directed us to Chenal de la Cayenne where we found this

Chenal de la Cayenne

A lovely lady who didn’t speak a word of English demonstrated how to open the shells (I so wish I had captured it on video) and passed me her opened oyster to try – I couldn’t remember chew or don’t chew? In my doubt I swallowed it down whole and was instantly reprimanded by the lady, ‘No, you must chew!’ she said in French

oysters from marennes

‘Why?’ I asked after all I’m sure somewhere I read that you shouldn’t.

“It’s better for your digestion as they are difficult to digest.’ came her reply

Marvellous! I’m going to end up with a dodgy tummy too!

I enjoyed my oysters but Paul was a bit disappointed with his and we stuck to Moules Marinieres and Maigre the local fish from La Gironde after that but one product that did catch his eye in the supermarket was this

choux de bruxelles

Now either you’re a brussel sprout fan or not, and come the winter I do them quite frequently with roasts and various other meals especially our Christmas Dinner but brussels in a tin I draw the line at.

He insisted, we are on holiday so I caved in and needless to say they returned to the UK with us along with local pate’s, biscuits in pretty tins and tinned sardines too.

Eager to get rid of them I proposed them with an evening meal and they were disgusting.

I tried one and there was no texture at all to it, I squashed it with my tongue against the roof of my mouth after which I pushed all of mine to one side, Paul kept on trying and ended up admitting they were horrible too. Defeated!



  1. Jennifer Howze
    July 5, 2012 / 9:16 AM

    Nice post. It’s refreshing to read about someone trying something new while travelling and, er, not liking it. Not every new dish or local specialty is going to be divine. But you have experienced something new and have a story to tell at the next dinner party, hopefully while eating something more palatable.

  2. July 5, 2012 / 5:30 PM

    Lovely post… The photographs are great, they totally capture France, and I am jealous of your huitre sampling!  I love a good huitre… I tend to swallow them whole though having covered them in shallots and vinegar!   Totally by chance, I have a post of a similar theme on my blog at the moment.  Definitely definitely not as appetising as yours though! :D  

  3. July 8, 2012 / 9:35 PM

    Oooh what great experiences….apart from the brussel sprouts! Now I really like brussels but in a tin??? WHAT?  

    Gorgeous pics Mari. Looks like you had a fabulous time xx

    p.s. Sorry for being rubbish and not commenting lately. Time is not my friend at the mo!

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