You’re at your very first French wedding reception and you can’t believe that even though you sat down to eat well over two hours ago, they’re still bringing out food - with not even a hint of an end in sight. Before you even made it to the table, you stuffed yourself full of amuse-bouche: Torsadées Feuilletées au Jambon, Tartinade de chèvre au basilic et à l’ail, and some little round meat-things that tasted like cheese. Once comfortably seated à table, you gorged yourself on slabs of Foie gras de Canard aux figues & son chutney de poire et mangue, then Trois crusacés pour une Ecume & Son Coulis Pourpre followed by an amazing Magret de canette grillé sauce périgourdine.
After the plates are cleared, you scan the room for the happy couple, certain that its finally time to crack the croquembouche. Instead, a waiter appears in front of you and sets down a dainty little glass of what looks like a scoop of ice cream, but smells like fruity alcohol (??). Ah, the famous “hidden” French dinner course: Le Trou Normand.
Le Trou Normand, The Normand Hole, is a strong alcohol served with a small scoop of sorbet that’s served during French weddings and large dinners. The idea is to clean the palate and stimulate the appetite- to give you a feeling of emptiness so that you can go back and tuck more in. The tradition, which started in Normandy, goes back several centuries. Originally, it was just a small glass of apple brandy (Calvados) served midway between a big meal. These days , any number of alcohols and flavors of sorbet can be served, depending on the region of France that you’re in or the course that is about to be served: Vodka and lemon sorbet go nicely with fish or seafood , whereas traditional Calvados and apple sorbet are perfect for foie gras.
To make your own Trou Normand, place one or two small scoops of high-quality sorbet (if you can’t find apple sorbet in the store, try making your own- feel free to substitute apple with lemon or lime) into a pretty martini glass or champagne coupe, then slowly pour the Calvados over it, top it off with a sprig of mint or lemon zest, et voila! A simple recipe that can easily be incorporated into any French or Paris-themed wedding celebration.