Late in 2010 I wrote about how the United Nations had declared the French meal one of the world’s most cultural treasurers. The Gastronomic Meal of France has since been on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. On the UNESCO website it reads “The gastronomic meal of the French plays an active social role within its community and is transmitted from generation to generation as part of its identity.”
Also called the Black Trumpet, these mushrooms are known in France as Trompette des Morts which literally means the Trumpet of the Dead. It’s not a very appetizing name but it is the most delectable mushroom. This season the markets of Provence offer a wide selection of mushrooms. We have had regular rainfall this autumn which makes for a good mushroom harvest.
Aix en Provence in known throughout France for its delicious almond shaped confections. Think of them as the Hershey’s Kisses of Provence. First created by a local confectioner in honour of the King René second marriage in 1473, calisson factories sprouted during the 19th C. Calisson’s are not well known abroad but a very busy sales and marketing staff at La Confiserie Roy René is working on diversifying the flavours in order to have a wider appeal. In fact they have just developed a date filled calisson for the Dubai market place. www.calisson.com
Driving through Villelaure on my way home from visiting friends who run a vineyard in Ansouis (www.stestevedeneri.com) I came across a rather intriguing sign.
Green Asparagus – Marseille London Paris.
On December 24th just after the celebration of midnight mass 13 desserts which symbolise Christ and the 12 apostles are served. In Provence there is no traditional cake or pie at this time of year. Instead they prepare a gathering of what used to be exotic fruit and nuts that came to the seaport city of Marseilles from other Mediterranean ports.
The official opening of the 2011-2012 Tuber Melanosporum season kicked off today in the town of Richrenches with a procession by the Brotherhood of the Black Diamond and a special mass blessing these elusive gems. Interestingly truffle are placed into the collection basket as opposed to coins or bank notes. Producers, brokers and just plain old admirers were on hand to attend an entire day dedicated to the first truffles available.
Snail farming or héliciculture in French (from the scientific term Helix which is one of the varieties of snails that can be farmed) is making a come-back. They aren’t really completely free-range as the giant pens have an electric fence so that they don’t just wonder off and so that their natural predators, like hedge hogs and birds don’t get there first.