Saturday, November 18, 2017

Poulpe or Pieuvre – Octopus. Octopus on French Menus.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman
There are many tasty octopus dishes in French cuisine. On the menu may be baby octopuses anywhere from 2.50 cm (1”)  across and weighing up to 100 grams (4 oz) or others that weigh up to 2 kilos (4.4 lbs). The smallest octopuses will be very lightly fried, and they will be tender. A whole stuffed baby octopus may be served cold and a larger one may be grilled. Any octopuses over 300 grams (11 oz) will have been cooked for an hour or more and then fried, grilled, braised or stewed.

Small octopuses may be prepared with the same recipes as small calamari, squid, but apart from these, an octopus has a distinctly different texture. Octopus is all about texture, they are slightly chewy, and they work well with the flavors they are served with.

Octopus, cuttlefish, and squid.
Octopus at the top, cuttlefish on the left and squid on the right.
Octopus has eight arms, cuttlefish and squid have eight arms and two tentacles.

The largest European consumers of octopus are the Spanish followed by the Portuguese, Greeks, and Italians. France holds a distant eighth or ninth place but has plenty of mouthwatering recipes. The worldwide leaders in octopus consumption are the Japanese.
Octopus on French menus:

Carpaccio De Pieuvre Huile d'Olive, Citron et Basilic Octopus Carpaccio marinated in olive oil, lemon and basil.
Duo de Poulpes et Seiches Grillés à la Plancha – A combined serving of octopus and cuttlefish grilled on the plancha.

Pieuvre Grillée aux Tomates Confites et  Basilic –  Grilled octopus served with a tomato jam and flavored with basil.

Grilled Octopus
Salade Tiède de Pieuvre Marinée et Pommes de Terre Nouvelles – A warm salad of marinated octopus served with new potatoes.
Pieuvre Braisée au Vin Rouge – Octopus, braised in red wine
Salade De Poulpes – Fried or grilled octopus cut into small pieces and served cold with a green or mixed salad and a vinaigrette dressing.

Octopus salad

Teille Sétoise A traditional octopus pie, claimed as their own by the residents of Sète with Italian heritage. The Teille is a traditional Sétoise street food that has now made it to the big time and is on many local restaurant menus. The pie is filled with octopus, tomatoes, and onions flavored with garlic and rosemary.    In restaurants, where this sometime street food has made it onto the menu it is served as entrée, the French starter.  Individual pies are often accompanied by a small green salad. (The Teille is now also made with calmar, squid, or seiche, cuttlefish). 
Sète is the largest French fishing port on the Mediterranean. It was built as the Mediterranean end of the Canal des Deux Mers, the canal of the two seas, which links the Atlantic to the Mediterranean.  It opened in the middle of the 17th century but now is only used for recreational boating.  You may hire a self-drive cabin cruiser and cruise from Sète to Bordeaux. Sète is the center for Languedocian cuisine around the Etang de Thau, the saltwater Etang Basin. This natural saltwater basin produces most of France’s Mediterranean mussels and oysters and is an important center for water sports.

Octopus a la Plancha.
With eggplant, tomato, crispy panisse, basil oil.
I catch my first octopus.

According to National Geographic, the largest giant Pacific Octopus was 30 feet across and weighed more than 600 pounds. Despite that denizen of the deep, the common Atlantic and Meditteranean octopus is much smaller. However, I was only  6 or 7 years old when I caught my first octopus, and that was in Juan Le Pins on the Mediterranean coast.  It was an exciting catch.   On holiday with my family, I was walking in the water next to a wooden pier watching the water skiers launching off the top.  Apparently, I disturbed an octopus that had linked itself to a wooden plank, and suddenly I had an octopus wrapped around my leg, close to my ankle. Seeing an octopus on my leg, it probably weighed 400 grams (1 lb),  I cried and if I believe those who were there, I screamed.  Within a second two French water skiers waiting for their turn jumped off the pier above me and pulled this giant octopus off me and threw it away.  However, not before my swimming trunks got sprayed with ink.  The stains could not be removed, and I wore those trunks with pride until I could no longer fit into them. That was also the last time I caught an octopus.  Since then I have seen many other octopuses, but apart from those in aquariums or National Geographic movies they have all been headed for the cooking pot.
Octopus with spaghetti

Octopi or Octopuses?

According to, the name octopus was first used in 1758. The name comes from the Greek oktōpous meaning being eight-footed.  The plural is not octopi as that is a Latin ending, correctly it would be octopodes, though octopuses is acceptable in English.
Octopus in the languages of France's neighbors:
(Catalan -pop roquer), (Dutch – achtarm or  kraak  )(German – gemeiner krake), (Italian-polpo), (Spanish -pulpo),

Connected Posts:


Behind the French Menu’s links include hundreds of words, names, and phrases that are seen on French menus. There are over 400 articles that include over 2,500 French dishes with English translations and explanations.  Just add the word, words or phrase that you are searching for to the words "Behind the French Menu" and search with Google or Bing.

Bryan G. Newman

Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2017.
For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Learning What is Really Behind the French Menu. A guest post by Nadège Lepoittevin.

 Guest Post by Nadège Lepoittevin.
It is only rarely that I mention a company or product by name. but Nadège Cuisine Tours offer travel plans close to my heart. This tour company offers such a planned and balanced introduction to French cuisine that I asked them to write an article about themselves. 
The authenticity and originality of these tours are due to their creator, Nadège Lepoittevin.  Nadège spent the first twenty years of her life in a small village not far from Cherbourg, Normandy.  There she developed a passion for cooking that has never left her.
Nadège reminds us.

The “Repas Gastronomique” is the unique French gastronomic meal listed as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.  This festive meal  brings people together “to enjoy the art of good eating and drinking.”  The authentic "repas" includes an aperitif, a starter, a main course, a cheese course, a dessert and a digestif.  The best ingredients are used, they are fresh and often seasonal. The recipes are selected with care, paired with wines and served on a decorated table.

Nadege Cuisine Tours are all about heritage and authenticity. The authenticity of the traditional French recipes you will discover come with the authenticity of the places you visit, and the authenticity of the people you meet.

The destinations

You are offered four French destinations: Normandy, Burgundy, Champagne[i] and the Bordeaux  [ii]region. Whichever Nadege Cuisine Tour you choose, you will learn what is behind traditional French recipes and the preparation of the meals. In Normandy, you visit a French pastry workshop and get to taste its delightful pastries. In Burgundy, you will visit a sweet factory, within the walls of an ancient abbey dating from 719, to discover how their delicious “anis[iii]” sweets (candies) managed to keep the same recipe over many centuries. You will visit chocolateries[iv], cidreries,[v] vineyards, and fruit farms where they make their own jam. After the tour, you will never eat French products the way you did before; you will know more than just how the products are made.

Behind the French Menu
With Nadege Cuisine Tours you will understand what really is behind a French menu. You will discover and select the ingredients for different menus at markets, farms, and artisanal shops. You may choose to cook the dishes yourselves, and that allows you to understand the true meaning of French cuisine.  In the Bordeaux region, you may visit an Espelette [vi]chili farm.  There you will learn how to cook this traditional chili and other products on a plancha[vii] and enjoy the lunch made with the ingredients we have chosen. In Normandy, you may pick wild stinging nettles in the countryside and cook a delicious, vibrant green, nettle soup. In Nuit Saint Georges, the home of one of France’s most famous Burgundy wines, you will discover everything there is to know about truffles[viii]. You may choose to accompany a truffle dog to understand how they find this golden fungus!

Visiting the markets to buy the most appealing fresh ingredients for a cooking class or a picnic is what, your host, Nadège, calls the authenticity of the menu. Besides the cooking classes, you will learn more about French cooking by meeting the artisans who create the cooking utensils. As an example, you will learn the advantages of copper kitchen utensils from visiting a village where nearly all the copper pots and pans in France are made.

Celebrating French cuisine.
Authenticity isn’t just about cooking classes, workshops or French markets. By eating in restaurants from bistros [ix]to Michelin[x] starred restaurants, Nadège Cuisine Tours bring you into the relationship the French people have with food. Dining in France means so much more than just sharing a meal. The French people love to celebrate.  A meal begins with an aperitif followed by wines in the wine regions, and ciders in the apple growing regions and is concluded with a digestif. During these tours, you will visit wine estates, cidreries, Champagne, and Armagnac [xi]cellars with opportunities for tastings. You will enjoy learning about the French passion for these drinks.

In France, eating in silence is impossible as sharing a meal is also getting to know the company. During the visits, restaurants owners come to your table to talk to you and chefs come out of their kitchens to check customer satisfaction. That emphasizes the connection between the chefs and the customers.  Then in Normandy Nadege’s family joins you to eat, drink and even speak and sing in French.
You may choose a guided tour where Nadège is your dedicated host, guide, cooking instructor, translator, friend, and chef!  Or you may select a self-drive tour where you follow Nadège’s footsteps at your own rhythm.

Nadège Lepoittevin
Nadege Cuisine Tours

Connected posts:

Behind the French Menu’s links include hundreds of words, names, and phrases that are seen on French menus. There are over 400 articles that include over 2,500 French dishes with English translations and explanations.  Just add the word, words or phrase that you are searching for to the words "Behind the French Menu" and search with Google or Bing.

Guest Post by Nadège Lepoittevin.  2017

Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2017.
For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman