Monday, May 19, 2008

Bergamotes de Nancy

Our friends John and Glen gave us a bag of specialty candies called Bergamotesfrom the city of Nancy, in Northeastern France  (the same region famous for the quiche). They are very pretty:  square and yellow amber in color, almost glass looking-like. They have a clean acidic citrusy flavor that definitely reminded me of my oh-so-needed morning cup o' tea (earl grey, that is).  And sure enough, bergamot is a citrus fruit used in the making of earl grey tea, so it is no surprise. 

I share with John and Glen a love for cooking and good ingredients. But another thing that brings me closer to them is France. Glen's mom -Monique- is French and even though Glen was born in the US, we like to share bits of French culture as often as we can. I still haven't had the pleasure to meet Glen's Mom, who lives in Texas, but she let me borrow an old French cookbook of hers and passed along some Bergamotes candies. 

I have to be honest here, I did not know about Bergamotes before, but I will cut myself some slack: almost each region, city or town in France seem to have some kind of sweet specialty. 

Take my beloved city of Lyon, just an hour away from my village... My family has been enjoying its Christmas candy specialty called papillotes for as long as I can remember; But it wasn't until my brother David moved to Paris that he realized that only people from the Lyon region know about papillotes -well I'm sure other people do know about it outside of Lyon but I would say that on average, it's still unknown. What a shame!- . They're a staple of Christmas in my region and you cannot miss them: they're everywhere in supermarkets and grocery stores during Christmas time! 

Papillote is a chocolate wrapped in a paper with a joke or a quote printed on it. The exterior wrapper is usually festive shiny gold. They can also be candied fruit but chocolate is definitely a favorite. In my family, we eat them after dinner all throughout December but of course, the pleasure is expanded to January too (why waste them? Might as well finish them!). Eating chocolate in front of the TV at night is an institution at la maison Bertrand. The darker, the better! 

So thank you Monique, merci John and Glen for making me discover Bergamotes candies! How about you? Tell me more about some typical American candies. I would love to learn more about what you like!


Stephanie Klein said...

You are a treasure, even if you're not wrapped in paper with a joke. Must get together again when I'm back from touring. I'd love to cook with you!

Aran said...

I love bergamote so i suppose these candies are made after it. I have a little bottle of bergamote extract that i use to flavor short doughs and cakes... so fragrant and fresh...