French Food Friday

This is week 1 of French Food Friday. (Not to be confused with French Fried Food Day, which is completely different!)

The inspiration has come from a home-assembled hamper of various regional French foods that Benj gave me and Chris for Christmas.

Benj Christmas Hamper

It contained some things that we’d never tried or even seen before, so I thought it would be interesting to do a regular feature on some of the more unusual items found on the French diet.

I was going to start with the canelés for which Bordeaux is famous, but oops, we ate them all before I could get a photo!

Canelès

So I’ll kick off this series with confiture lait de Normandie: Normandy milk jam. I had no idea this existed until Christmas Day but it turns out it’s found in many parts of the world, from Argentina to Spain. It appears to be South American in origin, but the French version is said to have been discovered in the 19th century by one of Napoleon’s army chefs. Every day the soldiers had in their rations a bowl of hot, sugared milk. Because of a battle, the chef left the milk heating for too long with the result that it began to thicken. However, it turned out everyone preferred it that way. Milk jam was born.

It’s now associated with Normandy, France’s milk central. The traditional way to cook it is in a copper pan.

It’s made from just milk and sugar, 300-500g of sugar to 1 litre of milk. Commercially produced versions may have a hint of pectin to help it set. It has a pleasant taste, very caramelly as you’d expect. You keep it in the fridge once opened and are meant to consume it rapidly, but that’s no hardship. It has 342 calories per 100 grams, 66g of carbohydrates and 6g of fat. No fibre but 5.9g of protein, so it’s not all bad!

It’s tasty on a croissant or bread, and I have it earmarked as a filling for a Swiss roll. I reckon that will taste lovely. In conclusion, confiture lait de Normandie is definitely worth a try.