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Barnacles

Pouce-pied or Pousse-Pied ?

We tell you everything about this atypical crustacean that is yet so typical of Brittany and made it its paradise! 

 

In Belle-île-en-Mer, you will find more pouce-pieds than pousse-pied… The pousse-pied are small boats with a flat bottom, used in swamps and that you have to push with your feet in the mud. 
 
Taste the barnacle, a crustacean only very rarely found in Europe, and found in great quantity in Belle île en mer (indeed, the island is home to the largest European population of this crustacean).
The word « pouce-pied » describes a small crustacean and is named like this because its foot resembles a thumbs up. It has other names such as : operne, pied de biche, lanperna (in the Basque country), and « pas-e-bez » in Brittany.

 

In France, you can find it in the south of Brittany (in the Morbihan) where you can fish it in Quiberon, Houat, Groix, Lorient and, of course, Belle-île. You can also find some fishing spots in the Finistère. 

 

Due to the strict ecological requirements, you can find the biggest deposit of barnacles on Belle-ile 

Its habitat is small because the barnacles requires strict ecological rules. In that sense, it appreciates the Gulf stream and its warm courants, the open sea’s agitated waters and the west wind : it’s therefore natural for it to have made of Belle-île its home, where there is the biggest deposit !

 

The barnacle grows on bunches (just like grapes) and lives fixed to the rocks, in the swaying tides zone, especially on the wild coast of Belle-île-en-mer, at the bottom of the schist cliffs.

 

Zones that aren’t easily accessible and which makes its fishing dangerous. Nonetheless, it suffered overexplotation which led to his demise in many regions of the Atlantic coast. Nowadays, the professionnal fishermen are conscious that they are facing a rare crustacean and thus they agreed to solely authorise fishing 4 to 5 days a month.

 

Just like the lamb of Belle-île, the "viande bovine des embruns" (bovine meat from the spray) or the honey of the Black bee, the barnacle is a gastronomy treasure, typical of Belle-ile-en-mer 

 

Even if its looks are surprising, its taste resembles that of a crab or a shrimp. You can pair it up how you please. The barnacle – just like the Offshore Lamb, The bovine meat from the spray or the Black bee honey – is a must that you need to try while staying on the island !

 

 

 

Where can you buy your barnacles ? 

You can find some barnacles on the marketplaces of the island where fishermen can sell it directly. 


Feel like cooking it ?


You bought your barnacles and wish to discover how to cook them ? The preparation is different depending on your individual taste but here’s our best advice to cook it simply. 


Or are you more willing to try it out at a restaurant ?


A few restaurants will offer, upon arrival, the possibility to taste barnacles. With sauce, or as an « aperitif »… the cooks find new ideas regularly to accommodate the barnacles in the best way. You can also find them in pots in the marketplace to spread it on bread !

 

Finally, you can also discover another way it is used : the barnacle can indeed be transformed into a very pretty decoration object… Benjamin Abraham is waiting for you in its workshop to show you his beautiful barnacle lamps.