Tuesday, 1 October 2013
Of Rice and Romans
Being interested in all things Roman, I was delighted to chance upon an amazing archaeological site in the village of Vieux La Romaine in Normandy, France. If you have ever wanted to imagine life in the Roman Empire, then this place is a ‘must see’. The Head of Archaeology and her small team of experts and volunteers are doing a fantastic job. With 3 major excavation sites, as well as a well designed museum containing a huge amount of artefacts, this location deserves a much greater place on the Roman archaeology trail.
Our visit was during the Heritage weekend in mid September ‘Les Journees du Patrimoine’ and a special ‘Salon de The’ was put on by the members of the ‘Comité de Jumelage de Vieux et Otterton’. The village of Vieux is twinned with Otterton, near Exeter in Devon. A tempting array of savoury and sweet flans were on offer to visitors, all served up with a smile and a cheery explanation of each dish.
Most impressive was the famous local Norman speciality - La Teurgoule – a rice pudding flavoured with cinnamon. It’s absolutely stunning to taste. The ladies explained that they make it in a large pot for special community festivities and the crusty topping is the best bit! Here’s the recipe for a smaller family celebration:
600ml/1 pint milk (whole not skimmed)
75g/3 oz pudding rice
2 tbsps sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Knob of butter
Grease an ovenproof dish with butter. Mix the rice, sugar and cinnamon in the dish. Add the milk and stir around. Dot the top with butter. Place in a preheated oven (150C/Mark 2/300F) for about 3-3 ½ hours. Test with a knife to see if the mixture has thickened and is creamy. Allow to cool and serve ‘tiede’ = warm
This recipe reminded me so much of Grandma Abson’s luscious rice pudding slowly cooked in the coal oven at Bolton on Dearne Railway station. We always loved scraping the crusty bits around the edge!
All in all, a great introduction to our Normandy trip and not forgetting Iain’s marvellous cooking at the 16th century Manoir de la Riviere in nearby Villers Bocage.