Behind the Scenes in Provence

Provence Confidential has been blogging about restaurant launches, cooking classes, food festivals, Provençal wines and spirits as well as tradition and folklore since 2008.

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Calisson Kisses

Calisson Kisses

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

Basics of Bouillabaisse

Basics of Bouillabaisse

Bouillabaisse is the world famous fish stew which originated in Marseilles. The name comes from the words bouillir which means to boil and baisser which means to reduce. Originally this meal was prepared by fishermen using their unsold fish. Bouillabaisse is served as two courses.

13 desserts

13 desserts

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.

Superfine

Superfine

Carding or cardage in French is the process of brushing fibers to prepare them as textiles. It’s no surprise therefore that many towns in Provence, which has been sheep ridden since the Romans, have a street called rue des cardeurs or place des cardeurs.

Red Coral

Red Coral

Red coral or precious coral is still harvested throughout the Mediterranean Sea at depth of 30 metres or below.  Jewellery of all shapes and sizes has been made using coral since antiquity.

Operation Anvil

Operation Anvil

Just in time to commemorate the allied invasion of Provence, the U.S.S. Annapolis has arrived in the Port of Toulon. Operation Dragoon originally called Anvil (the southern counterpart to Operation Overlord) www.operationdragoon.com took place on August 15, 1944 with allied landings on beaches all along the coast between Toulon and Cannes.

It's Christmas Time all Over the World

It's Christmas Time all Over the World

It's that festive time of year again and the streets of many European cities from Paris to  St. Petersburg are all equipped with lights manufactured right here in Provence. If you have seen how remarkable the Champs Elysées looks before Christmas it's all thanks to the designers at Blachere Illumination in Apt.

Galette des Rois

Galette des Rois

The Fête des Rois (or Festival of Kings) takes place on the 12th day after Christmas and is known as the Epiphany. In France the tradition is marked by a dessert known as the Galette des Rois or King's Cake which is sold with a paper crown.

Cool House

Cool House

Provence was dotted with ice houses that produced and stored giant cubes of ice needed in city centers to store perishable goods.The Glacière de Pivaut located in Mazauges at the foot of the Sainte Baume mountain pictured above was fully functional until the late 1780s and recently restored. Like it’s counterparts it was built on an incline so as to be able to load on one end while taking ice out from another.