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Food / Wine

Have yourself a Provençal Christmas, by Savourez

By Savourez

Explore how Christmas is celebrated in Provence and use these ideas to make your own Provençal Christmas.

Back in the days, before attending midnight mass on Christmas eve, families of Provence use to sit down for a rich and lengthy feast. Dinner usually began with a Bagna Cauda, a
Bagna Caudia
Bagna Cauda
raw vegetables platter with a hot dip made from anchovies. This was followed by cardoon, a vegetable similar to chard, the stem being the only edible part. Then came dried cod or fish soup, either Bourride or Bouillabaisse. Provençal cheeseboard was served, with a mix of local goat and ewe’s milk cheeses, followed by the peak of the evening: dessert. In actual fact there was not one dessert but as many as the family could afford. The number thirteen, referring to Christ and the twelve apostles at the Last Supper, appeared later on and soon any respectable hostess would be able to name them by heart. 
Nowadays, dinner varies amongst families as traditions from other regions and countries have been brought in, but one thing remains year after year: the “treize desserts”. Local sweet specialities are chosen, varying according to the town or area, but tradition lays down the basic, unalterable rules.
The first four desserts represent the four mendicant orders of friars. These are raisins (Dominicans), died figs (Franciscans), almonds (Carmelites) and hazelnuts (Augustinians). Then come walnuts and another dried fruit, usually prunes, dates or quince. In some places dried fruits are replaced with candied fruits. Often dates or prunes are stuffed with coloured almond paste and walnuts.

Three seasonal winter fruits provide are added, two of them being apples and pears. The third may be melon, grape, mandarins or oranges.

Nougat always features on the list, both the soft white nougat and the black harder one. Nearby Aix-en-Provence are also included the delicate Calissons, a confectionary made from a paste of almond, candied melon & orange.

The thirteenth dessert is the Pompe de Nöel, a sweet brioche baked with olive oil,
Pompe de Noel
Pompe de Noël
flavoured with lemon zest and orange flower water. Bakers traditionally used to offer these to their regular customers over the festive season, and it was never sliced with a knife but always broken apart with the hands.
Although nowadays families drink champagne for dessert, the traditional accompanying wine is vin cuit, which translates with "cooked wine", but is in fact a naturally sweet wine like Sauternes, Muscat or Beaumes-de-Venise.

Savourez Ltd. specialises in organic French hampers delivered throughout the UK and Europe. They have selections of delicious nougats, almonds, walnuts, chocolate specialities and much more from Provence, Aquitaine and Burgundy for this Christmas. Look up on, and joyeux Noël!


Savourez Hamper



25/10/2012 - w.gicrun said :

Surpelby illuminating data here, thanks!


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