Learn French while having a Calvados…


…right after the starter and then another one after the main course and maybe a last one before the dessert is finally served – that’s what is called a trou normand in colloquial French, a Norman “hole”, meaning in fact that you “extend” the capacities of your stomach by rinsing it with hard liquor. That sounds barbaric? Well, Normandy is quite a rough place, food there is mostly about butter, cream and cheese so you can always use some help of a real digestif.

What's in a name? And if it was just: "getting hammered"?

It might be Calvados (made of apples) or Armagnac (made of grapes and NOT of plums, see the commentaries below), Cognac (made of raisins) or any other eau-de-vie, it’s not about the taste, it’s about the impact. Even Guy de Maupassant, one of the greatest writers ever, mentions the rough habit in his work Farce normande, saying that a trou normand “throws fire in the bodies and madness in the heads” (“…le trou normand…qui jetait du feu dans les corps et de la folie dans les têtes”). You see, it’s part of the category: don’t try this at home. And why would you: in Paris, you can go to a public place where they know what it is all about like the bistro pictured above, owned by my friend Franck (say: “Fronk”, he’s the guy in the red t-shirt) who is, quite obviously, a self-declared trou-normand-expert.

4 comments

  1. Georg

    When I was in Trouville a few years ago I had a Calvados after lunch, but I was surprised because they served it together with a small sugar packet. The Frenchmen at the next table received their Calvados a few minutes later, also with sugar. And they had no idea, just like me, what to do with it. Can you help out?

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