The tasty aspect of this holiday, Chandeleur here in France, is the great amount of crêpes made, in each household, following a different recipe. My father in law is self-appointed crepe-master. He prepares, like every year, the batter 24 hours in advance, mixing fresh eggs, flour, butter, a pinch of salt and a mix of rum and pastis. There is no sugar in our mix, as the sweet will be added after being cooked.
Every Food has a Story – the Canelé
16th century Annonciade couvent in Bordeaux used to collect the egg yolks from the wine makers who had used the egg whites to clarify the wine (some say to seal they used the egg whites to seal the barrel but that makes less sense). The legend likes to add that they collected extra vanilla, rum and sugar shipped back from the Caribbean, and added flour and milk. It's all very romantic, and one can envision nuns in their habits looking for the spices to be scavenged from the spice storage in Chartons (now the modern art museum). However, there are some key issues with the story.
Sarlat-la-Caneda in Perigord
The Dordogne and Perigord Noir is a magical part part of South-West France. There are museums tracing some of the earliest peoples in France. Great local delicacies like black Perigord truffle, foie gras and walnuts. The best time to visit is the fall, when the leaves are changing color and the air is crisp enough to make a fire.
Sweet Salt, Sugar and the New World
Short history of sugar in Europe and the New World with links to sources to learn more.
Reunion Island (Ile de La Réunion) and Vanilla
Reunion Island is an actively volcanic island, which has a fascinating history. When first discovered there was very little animal life and had never been inhabited...while the origins of vanilla are Central and South American, prior attempts to grow the beans in Europe always failed. The natural pollinators were a special species of bees that didn't live in Europe, but this was not known at the time. A slave, a young boy by the name of Edmund Albias, created the hand pollination method and completely transformed the vanilla industry.
Agen, in the land of Prunes
Upon entering the tourist office in Agen, you are greeted with a selection of local goods which consists of Prunes (dried plums) in multiple forms. However, Agen is full of other delicious foods, timbered houses, and carved stone hotel particuliers, an impressive art museum, and a really unique canal/aqueduct system built in the mid-1800s that is still in use today.
South-West France Desserts
From the macaron to canele, to puits d'amour to mouchous...the SW of France has a wide variety of bite sized sweet treats! This part of France is also were chocolate is believed to have entered from Spain and makes it home to some incredible chocolate shops!
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