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The return of the "Norman hole"


The return of the "Norman hole"
You maybe know the "trou normand", this old gastronomic custom typically French which consists in taking a (small) glass of calvados, generally between the last course and the dessert?
It's something that seems a bit anachronistic nowadays, having a glass of an alcohol of more than 60° in the middle of a meal, often with wines, to supposedly "ease digestion", ouch!
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Last modified on: December 18th 2021

Keywords for this post:MealCustomNormandyNormandCalvadosSorbet
The return of the "Norman hole"
If the original practice is rather debatable (personally, I'm almost sure that I won't see the dessert, or else in a fog :-), the principle on the other hand is not stupid: In a rather rich meal, like a holiday meal, take a little break before the dessert, and why not, by tasting something different.

It is a little bit towards that that the usage has been adapted for several decades, we always practice the Norman hole, but it is rather with something fresh, like a sorbet, often alcoholic, we do not completely remake.
The great classic, always in the Norman spirit, is a small dish with an apple sorbet, without or with a dash of calvados poured over it just before serving, or its "colonel" version with lemon and vodka sorbet.
The freshness of the sorbet, welcome at the end of the meal, is typical of what great restaurants call the pre-dessert.

sorbet colonel



In the end, it is a certain contrast that is sought, we have just eaten the main course, often quite substantial, perhaps washed down with strong wines, our mouths are a little full, a touch of lightness, of freshness, would be welcome.
Someone who is a bit strict might tell you to stop fussing, and simply drink a glass of fresh water, that it would be enough, and he would probably be right, but it is a holiday meal, we want to get out of the ordinary.

But instead of limiting yourself to the two initial options, alcohol alone (classic but outdated) or sorbet/ice (more modern but overused), it is also possible to think outside the box and go for something more daring, here are some ideas for, perhaps, your upcoming holiday meals.

A few rules that can't be ignored

- We stick to something small, a ramekin for example is too big, you need a very small glass, or a cup, or an espresso/ristretto cup.
- You don't serve anything with it, no little cookies or sweets, that would be too much.
- We serve the guests, and we sit with them right away, it is also a moment of exchange, the preparation of the dessert can wait a little.

And some suggestions

-It can be something very cold, a fruit sorbet with a little acidity for example: apple already mentioned, citrus fruits (clementine for example) or red fruits.
- Or something fresh like a small iced coffee, a fruit mousse, a very light cream, a red fruit chantilly, or even a small fresh fruit salad.
- More daring, it could be something hot: a sabayon, vanilla or with a hint of citrus, served in a tiny cup.
- Last hot/tidy idea: mulled apple juice (my favourite), or hot cider.

jus de pommes aux épices



In all of this, you should find something that will pass the "trou normand" test with flying colors with your guests, and who knows, maybe even surprise them a bit.

In summary:The "trou normand" in its principle, a refreshing break in a meal, is a good idea that can be declined in many ways, not necessarily alcoholic.

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