Un Hiver en Bretagne –A Winter in Brittany—is the title of a novel I’ve seen on shelves but have yet to pick up…. Probably, because I don’t need to read it. The title says it all. Winter in Brittany is a novel in itself—gray, wet, and cold, with ‘patches of brightness,’ as the BBC weather service likes to call them, between the gales. Winter in Brittany is a time of wind-tossed seas and driving rain, of dead calms and fine mists, of slow-dawning mornings and low-lit afternoons. It’s a time of ruddy cheeks, chapped hands, chilled toes, and layer upon layer of woolly clothing to keep out the cold and damp. It’s a time of quiet, unimaginable quiet, as hotels shutter for the season and tourists are scarce.
Food-wise, winter in Brittany is a time when pot-au-feus (pot roasts) bubble on the stove and creamy gratins bake in the oven. It’s a time when seafood tastes freshest—the oysters and scallops pulled from the water have a lean, briny purity and the fish from the deep are firm-fleshed and mild. A time when potatoes and leeks comfort and a smoky bit of pork is a welcome addition to just about anything.
After several years of fleeing the cold, damp, dim, gray of Breton winters, I’m spending 2018 in Cancale. I’m happy with my choice (when I’m not kvetching about the weather in small talk with my neighbors) and I’m hoping to live the experience to the fullest by taking long walks and bike rides (rain or shine…though I draw the line at hail and high winds), reading thick books by the fire, playing around in the kitchen, and trying to write about it all.