This is not some Saks-style advance access to retail markdowns on mutton, but one of the most delicious things we ate in Normandy. Présalé literally translates as ‘pre salted.’ And if sheep are grazing on salt-infused grass along the sea shore, that’s what you get. Almost as delightful as that notion, is how you buy the lamb.
On Sundays, stalls crop on sidewalks and in parking lots to sell roasts and chops. Our hosts pre-ordered the présalé, which we picked up from a road-side stand.
So much to take in, starting with the line. Not only the number of people on it, but that they were carrying roasting pans and gravy boats to take the lamb from trattoir (sidewalk) to table (table, but pronounced differently). The gravy boats were for the drippings. Oh…the drippings! Ladled into jars for those like us who weren’t gravy-boat equipped. Among the smells and sights to take in are the massive cleaver and wooden sledge hammer, a dynamic duo to chop the chops.
When we arrived, in the backyard, behind a picture perfect, ivy-covered stone house with white picket fence, was a pretty-in-pink, hydrangea-laden table. In the kitchen a deep-bottomed iron pot with bubbling oil for frying pommes soufflés, puffy clouds of crispy potatoes. We’d only just arrived and, well, we had arrived – in a little corner of foodie heaven where everything, the table, the flower arrangements, the potatoes, the fruit platter, all look so effortlessly created. I just marveled at it all. I think Julia would have, too.