Those Blank Spots on the Map
The blank spots on the map of France, circled and numbered above, require some explanation (beyond the fact that every inch of France produces some kind of interesting food).
Blank Spot 1, representing Normandy and Brittany, is France’s main production center for apples. The French eat apples of course, but they also ferment them into delightful ciders both sweet and dry. Being ambitious, they take the process an extra step and distill apple wine into the apple brandies called Calvados in Normandy and Lambig in Brittany. It is not unheard of for one of these brandies to use juice from more than a hundred different species of apples: tart apples, sweet apples, and even some scarcely edible bitter apples.
Blank Spot 2 is the Lille Nord-Pas-de-Calais area, the center of France’s beer industry. Brittany and Alsace also produce beer.
Blank Spot 3 is Lorraine. Before the two world wars, Lorraine was a thriving wine region, but these wars obliterated nearly every vineyard, and the region never recovered. The Champagne region west of this blank spot was also in the middle of these wars, but somehow it recovered.
Blank Spot 4 is as essential to world wine as are vineyards. Here you find France’s most renowned oak forests, from which the wood for oak barrels is harvested on a fully sustainable basis. Plant an acorn, wait 150 years, and…viola… you get the perfect oak for aging wine.