We love our time spent in St Vaast. It is a delightful fishing port. (Take a look at this site, advertising a house to let, for a gallery of photos which give a flavour of this lovely town.) There is a lively and varied medium-scale fishing industry associated with the port, including a Coquilles St Jacques fishery for which the French show a certain amount of self-discipline. At least in our neck of the Norman coastline. These wondrous shellfish are fished between the months of October and May. During the intervening summer months the local population of these molluscs is left to breed in peace.
Many scallop species are highly prized as a food source; the name “scallop” is also applied to the meat of these animals when it is used as seafood. The brightly coloured, fan-shaped shells of some scallops, with their radiating, fluted patterns, are valued by shell collectors, and have been used since ancient times as motifs in art and design.
When in season scallops are available at all the local fishmongers and in the supermarkets. Most fun, however, is to buy them from a stall on the quay where you can buy 1 kilo of scallops for 3 Euros. Of course nearly all the weight is in the shell, but you still get 11 juicy units consisting of the large circular muscle and the orange ‘coral’. I also keep back the frills which I boil and liquidise to fatten out soups.
Our neighbour Mme Heurtevant buys her scallops by the sackful and arranged for a 10 kilo consignment to be delivered to our door the other morning. It was a fairly labour-intensive job shucking them all but Nick and I evolved a conveyor belt system and at the end of it we had 45 scallops to put in the freezer when the season turns from feast to famine!