Mont-Saint-Michel: One Ancient Omelette


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We had heard about The Omelette, of course.

About how Annette Boutiaut, a late-19th Century innkeeper in Mont-Saint-Michel, had begun keeping eggs in store to whip together quick omelettes for hungry guests waiting for their dinner. We knew it was a key component of the town’s history — one that has thrived over the decades as a big tourist trap draw. 

Even so, as we approached Mont-Saint-Michel and marveled at its imposing medieval abbey on a mount rising from the water and towering over a vast expanse of grayish blue, it seemed like there should be more. 

If this grande dame of a town had to have a gastronomic one-trick pony, shouldn’t it be something more than a trifling breakfast dish masqeurading as dinner?

But there it was in every restaurant — most notably as the main course on a 55 Euro set menu at La Mère Poulard, where Annette’s omelettes first appeared. 

What could possibly be so special about a bunch of beaten eggs fried in a pan?

Well, for starters, butter, I suppose. 

Insanely massive gobs of butter, judging from our peek into the Disney-esque display kitchen at La Mère Poulard, where a “chef” kitted out in pseudo-period garb flitted about, prepping the evening’s omelettes.  

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First, eggs and fresh cream were combined in large copper bowls …

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… Then, said “chef” would mix them together using not one, but two whisks at the same time …

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The mixture was then poured into cast-iron pans and cooked over fire in a big hearth. 

It looked so simple we rapidly dismissed the notion of paying 55 Euros for this vaunted omelette.  Instead, Le Mouton Blanc down the street held the promise of an omelette at a table with a smidge of a view of the water — for less than half the price. 

Our omelette looked similar to the version we’d seen produced at La Mère Poulard.

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It was fluffy and airy, possessing the consistency of a feathery souffle and the satisfying juxtaposition of a slightly crusty exterior with a soft, creamy interior. (The bordering-on-hostile service at the restaurant was quite a bit less satisfying — but, that’s another story.)

In the end, we decided, The Omelette was something special. Not 55 Euros-special, to be sure. Or perhaps even 25 Euros-special. 

But as over-priced gastro-gimmicks go, this wasn’t all bad. After all, I did wake up the morning after craving another one.


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