You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘food’ category.

Roaming the aisles of Monprix in Cannes this summer, I happened to see a good variety of French sausages.

Having room in my suitcase for only one pack, I decided to buy Saucisses de Montbéliard for €5.40. It has the IGP — Indication Géographique Protégée — label.

Saucisses de Montbéliard are a speciality of the Franche-Comté region and originated in the ancient city of that name located in the départment of Doubs.

My better half thought they were hot dogs, but they are proper sausages. They have a light, smoky taste and an unctuous texture, to say the least. And they would have fit neatly into hot dog buns.

It was certainly too hot to make a traditional casserole or stew with them, and as we wanted the sausage to be the star on the plate, we had them with a slice of baguette.

Mine were made in Morteau, another city in Doubs, known for its sausage.

The Franche-Comté region is mountainous (the Jura range) and located near Switzerland. As one would expect, all sorts of wonderful sausage and cheese come from there.

There is also a Saucisse de Morteau. As with the one from Montbéliard, it is smoked in a traditional tuyé farmhouse. Regions of France has a photo of one and explains (emphases in the original):

The Tuyé farmhouse is a rare but extremely traditional house existing in Franche-Comté. It may be the only region in France to have such a regional house type. The Tuyé property was originally the house of mountain farmers or breeders.

The name of the house, Tuyé house, originates from the name of the massive chimney taking place in the main room that was used to heat the house obviously but also to cure meat in smoke. Ham and various sausages were smoked in the furnace for weeks, sometimes for months.

Outside, the traditional Franche-Comté tuyé house is massive. This is explained by the original need to provide a shelter for both human beings and the animals. Winters in this foremost mountainous region are cold and long.

Another Regions of France page explains the difference between the Morteau and the Montbéliard. With regard to the latter:

The Montbeliard sausage is also smoked in a tuyé using different types of wood, bringing additional flavours to this Franche-Comté gastronomic product. In France, the Morteau sausage is the greatest rival of this very tasty product.

These sausages are outstanding when cooked soaking in milk with potatoes (the French way!) or accompanied with vegetables as bacon, cabbage, carrots, leeks + garlic, onion, thyme or bay leaves.

A traditional way to prepare the saucisse de Morteau is to first cook some potatoes in a pan filled with half milk and half water. Add sausages in the pan and cook for one hour and a half… Then drain the water and the milk. It’s gorgeous and tasty and will indulge your taste buds.

Some people make their own saucisses de Montbéliard. This short video shows what is involved:

If you are in a self-catering situation in France, these sausages are definitely worth buying. And, no, you don’t need to casserole them, just reheat them in a pan for several minutes until warmed through. (Monoprix’s come already cooked.)

With all the truth bombs that need to be dropped and red pills dispensed concerning the US president, I am woefully behind with a write-up of my trip to Cannes earlier this summer.

I bought three types of cheese to bring back home. Two came from Monoprix and are the subject of this post.

The Cannes Monoprix has a separate cheese cabinet for products from small producers. Most of the cheese in that cabinet is made with raw (cru) milk. Raw milk is excellent for developing and maintaining good gut bacteria, thereby promoting overall health.

Banon

Banon is made in a town of the same name located in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence region.

It is a small round cheese which comes wrapped in chestnut leaves which are tied with raffia. The Banon cheeses I buy are semi-soft: not runny, just pliable.

Banon is made from raw goat’s milk and is available most of the year, except between October and December.

The taste from the ones available in the supermarket is particularly mild and creamy — reminiscent of milk — therefore, suitable for the whole family.

However, there are also runny Banons and stronger tasting ones. I’ve been eating Banon since 2002 and have never seen those.

In any case, the manufacture involves allowing the cheese to mature for several days then dipping it in eau de vie before wrapping it in sterilised, vinegar-softened chestnut leaves. It further matures for two weeks.

Always look for the yellow and red AOP — Appellation d’Origine Protégée — label for authenticity.

Mine cost €4.50. It was made by the Fromagerie de Banon and distributed by the company Étoile de Provence. It had the AOP label. Incidentally, the Fromagerie de Banon is open to the public on weekday afternoons.

Chef Morgan, who has been to Banon to study the cheese, writes:

Each step, including maturation, is done at a particular temperature. It is the combination of the sweet curd and the tannins from the chestnut leaves which give Banon its “Banon” flavor.

Le pliage du fromage” means folding the cheese. In Provence, goat cheese was historically the primary source of protein in the winter and the farmers needed a way to preserve “surplus cheese” to be consumed in the winter months (later surplus cheese was sold at markets). 

In the autumn when the chestnut leaves fall, the brown leaves (which have a lower tannin content) are collected and stored in a dry place. They are softened by blanching them in boiling water and/or vinegar and then they are drained.  The leaves preserve the cheese and give it its unique flavor.

Also:

the interior of the cheese is soft and gets softer as it matures.

Fromages.com says:

The alcohol protects the cheeses against bad mould and slowly the chestnut leaf aroma influences the cheese’s taste.

The local Banon is runnier — more mature — than the ones I’ve seen:

The farmers of the region eat the cheese by scooping it up with a teaspoon and washing it down with cooled local red or white wine. 

Chef Morgan tells us a bit more about Banon’s history:

Banon, the cheese, is a cheese with character. It has been around since Gallo-Roman times and it is legendarily told that the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius ate so much Banon that he died …

The cheese gained AOC (now AOP) status in 2003:

which guarantees that the goat’s milk is from local goats (goats of the commune of Provence) which have grazed in particular areas in France (it must be one of  31 cantons, 179 municipalities in four departments in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Hautes-Alpes, Provence, or Drôme) and that the goat’s milk was produced, manufactured, and ripened in the traditional way. 

Neufchâtel

NeufchatelNeufchâtel is a soft cheese made from cow’s milk, preferably raw. (Some Neufchâtel is made with pasteurised milk, so be sure to read the label.)

I used to think it came from Switzerland, until I saw a French food documentary. I was surprised to learn that it comes from Normandy.

It’s an interesting cheese because it’s runny around the outside with a soft, crumbly centre. I have seen it described as ‘grainy’, which doesn’t do it any justice at all.

Although mild, it has a stronger, more distinctive taste than Banon. It is reminiscent of nuts and mushrooms and is absolutely delicious.

Mine cost €3.70 and was made by Gaec Brianchon in Nesle-Hodeng. It had the AOP label. Alex and Olivier sell the cheese from their farm every day and provide tours by appointment only.

Neufchâtel is a classic cheese, although not as old as Banon. Some accounts say that Neufchâtel dates from the sixth century, others from 1035.

Cheese.com tells us:

The cheese is made in many forms, shapes and sizes – bonde (cylinders), coeur (heart shape), carré (square shape) and briquette (brick shape). Legend goes that French farm girls fell in love with English soldiers during the Hundred Years War and started making heart shaped cheeses to show their love.

Neufchâtel’s AOC (now AOP) status was granted in 1969.

Conclusion

Although I bought these cheeses in France, it is possible that readers living in the US can find them at speciality grocers, such as Trader Joe’s. I bought some French cheese there several years ago, and it was excellent.

In my 2013 Cannes food shopping entry, I wrote:

Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in any of the shops mentioned below, only that I have found them to be reliable establishments. Also, please note that your nation’s customs laws might prohibit bringing home certain items (e.g. dairy products).

Before you leave home, pack a couple of large sheets of thick bubble wrap. Chances are you’ll want to bring some culinary items home and a few of these are likely to be in glass containers.

Also, if you have one, pack a flat chill bag, which is great for bringing home cheese and other items which require refrigeration. If you do not have one of these, Monoprix’s food hall and Casino supermarket sell them.

The chill bags and bubble wrap are essential for food lovers. In 2017, Monoprix still has the chill bags, conveniently located in the frozen food aisle. (I’m not sure about Casino, only because I didn’t look.)

In June, SpouseMouse and I checked out the smoked fish selection in Cannes. Casino’s was comprised of smoked salmon.

Monoprix’s was more adventurous with the addition of smoked eel and smoked trout.

Smoked eel — Filets d’Anguille fumée (Delicemer)

At €6.21 for 100g — enough for two people — Delicemer’s smoked eel fillets are a must.

Not only do they look beautiful, with two foot-long long strips of filleted eel (like this), they were a dream to eat.

This product is from Spain. They treat eel with love.

Smoked eel is not widely available but every foodie should definitely try it.

In England, we bought Forman’s many years ago, but it seemed very salty, even for me. Since then, I have had it regularly when I dine as a guest at a private club in Pall Mall, where it tastes rich, unctuous and buttery. Presumably, Forman’s is the supplier, but it tastes just right. Maybe they have adjusted the salt content.

I thought nothing could top that until I tried Delicemer‘s from Monoprix. It was even more unctuous and buttery. Even better, it was a fraction of the price of Forman’s. Glad I bought two, now consumed.

Although a light horseradish cream is often served as an accompaniment, Delicemer’s are best eaten plain at room temperature with a few slices of decent baguette.

This was one food memory that I’ll always treasure.

I will buy more on our next trip.

Smoked trout — Truite Fumée Pyrénées (Ovive)

I bought a 120g pack — 4 slices — of Ovive’s smoked trout for approximately €6.

Although I would buy it again, only because it is difficult for some reason to find smoked trout in England now, I did not think it was unctuous enough. I enjoy a fatty tasting smoked fish.

Sure enough, on the back of the packet it says (translation mine):

For your health, Ovive trout is 2 to 3 times less fatty than any farmed salmon.

Ovive trout has a fat content of 7.6g per 100g. Contrast this with Delicemer’s smoked eel, which has 34g of fat per 100g. Now I know why I preferred the smoked eel.

On the other hand, SpouseMouse enjoyed the trout and was not missing the fat.

Ovive’s packaging is a marketer’s dream. The text on the back is the length of a magazine article, I kid you not.

truite fuméeThe front of the packet tells you that Ovive’s production is good for nature, jobs and you.

(Image credit: Ovive)

Like the one pictured, ours also came from Lau Balagnas, one of Ovive’s three trout farms. It is run by François Pomarez, who also runs another of the company’s trout farms in the Hautes-Pyrénées.

Each site, listed on the back, has the name of the town, regional location, river and farmer’s name. You can find out more on their Facebook page.

Ovive is part of Groupe Aqualande:

Our company is located in the Southwest of France with a strong attachment to this region. Aqualande has become a European leader in aquaculture. Build on the expertise of its people, grateful for the rich values provided by nature and aware of customer expectations, Aqualande has been able to develop harmoniously in all activities of the aquaculture industry.

It is comprised of 15 co-operative members who employ 700 people based in the region:

Smoked Trout is the flagship of Aqualande. With a production of about 3,300 tons per year, Aqualande is leader on the French market. OVIVE brand is valued by its packaging assets of the company: the attachment to the region, the quality of the product and social responsibility.

Thus, our Aqualande Cooperative Group has developed an integrated aquaculture industry and is the largest in the sector in France, with a staff of 700 people in its three activities.

Historically, our company carries the same requirements :

  • strong commitments from the beginning to the end, environmental and social responsibility and product quality,
  • certification by independent third parties to validate our approach,
  • transparency and information towards our partners and our consumers.

Our commitments are our values!

I wish them well. Even though it’s left-wing, I like the idea of co-operatives, where everyone has an interest and receives a proper share of the profits.

Conclusion

I highly recommend bringing these two products home with you when you are ready to leave France. And if you are spending your holiday there and in charge of your own meals, stock up and enjoy them in your accommodation. You won’t be sorry.

While relaxing in one of the lounges at Nice Airport in June 2017, SpouseMouse and I enjoyed a drink and took with us some packaged snacks to try once we got home.

One of these was Bret’s Classique potato crisps (two 30g bags) from the heart of Brittany (Bretagne, hence the brand name):

Potato crisps with Guérande salt – Ingredients: Potatoes, sunflower oil, Guérande salt (1.0%). Produced in a factory handling: gluten, milk, celery, mustard. Suitable for vegetarians.

Thinking this was going to be a taste sensation, we could hardly wait to sample them with a gin and tonic.

Hmm.

If you’re in France and can try these for free, go ahead. However, I would not buy them.

They weren’t salty enough for me.

SpouseMouse said, ‘They’re only crisps, nothing special.’

We had the second bag the following evening and felt the same.

The packaging tells us that Bret’s uses potatoes from Brittany. The product is made in Brittany with regional sea salt. From this we expected great crisps, but they lacked the wow factor.

Bret’s website is a marketing masterpiece. The home page tells us that all ingredients are natural, with no additives. (Those interested in the environment will be interested to know that the company has a very small carbon footprint.)

However, even the most industrial crisp is made with three ingredients: potatoes, oil and salt. In Europe, at least, there are no additives.

Anyway, Bret’s has a varied line of artisanal crisps. I cannot vouch for these.

Their parent company, the Breton family-owned Altho, was started in 1995, after owner Alain Glon spent four years advising local potato growers on techniques and varieties. Over the past 22 years, Altho and its crisps (some sold under the company brand name) have gone from strength to strength.

Altho hopes that Bret’s will become a ‘serious challenger’ in the crisp market:

with creative packaging focussing on the visual.

Well, at least they got it right with the packaging and their marketing. Could do better with the product.

When we’re in Cannes, we shop regularly at Monoprix, which is in the centre of town across the road from the railway station.

In 2013, I wrote about the terrific bread they had in their food hall:

Monoprix’s breadmaking is overseen nationally by a MOF (meilleur ouvrier de France) who has an expert knowledge of all types of flour and yeast. You can pick up a small booklet at the bakery counter in which Frédéric Lalos — the MOF — describes each type of bread.

I did not eat any supermarket bread in 2015, but somewhere along this timeline, Monoprix must have terminated their contract with the MOF, because what they have now looks and tastes mass-produced.

Monoprix’s artisanal breads used to be in the bakery section with the fresh pastries. No longer. This year in Cannes, they are in the middle of the food hall in a separate display.

The day we left, I bought a Monoprix baguette to bring home (€0.95 for 400g). We thought it would taste like an artisanal product.

It was awful.

Slicing it was the first disappointment. It had a tight, white, soft mass-produced industrial crumb, no different to what one could buy in a North American or northern European supermarket. Ugh.

Even worse, it tasted of nothing, despite the fact that the label said it had rye sourdough in it.

I should have gone up nearby Rue Meynadier to a proper bakery. Next time I will.

Here is Monoprix’s current sad selection of own-brand bread and baguettes. Even the Monoprix Gourmet line looks ordinary. It’s terrible, just terrible.

Now that there is plenty of tennis to enjoy on television, it’s the time to tuck into strawberries and cream.

Last week, I bought a punnet of strawberries at our local Tesco (£2 for 400g). I recommend these wholeheartedly. I haven’t tasted such a sweet, flavoursome strawberry in many years.

My English readers should look for the punnet with a label that reads ‘Kentish Supersweet Strawberries’ containing the variety Malling™ Centenary. (Malling is a rural district of Kent.) I put the variety in bold, because I tried another ‘Kentish Supersweet’ variety a few days later, and it was not very good.

Paul Mansfield is the grower. Well done, Mr Mansfield. You made our Pimm’s even more delightful.

Those who favour another option for their berries might want to add a dash of balsamic vinegar and finely sliced basil leaves, both of which are a perfect complement to strawberries. We had a fruit salad with those ingredients 18 years ago in Cannes at La Potinière. The restaurateur mixed the berries and basil with a tablespoon of light olive oil, a few finely sliced black olives, a scant teaspoon of sugar and cracked black pepper on top. He served it in a parfait glass with a long spoon. It sounds like an improbable combination, but it was excellent.

Here is Tesco’s recommendation, along similar lines:

Incidentally, based on customer feedback, The Grocer has named Tesco Britain’s Favourite Supermarket for 2017:

No doubt that is partly because Tesco are committed to reducing food waste and giving food to charity.

They also think of urban dwellers who would like to grow their own produce:

The accompanying article says, in part:

Now a new unique and super-productive indoor tomato plant is being launched by Tesco aimed at helping people living in urban areas without gardens.

The mini tomato plant has been naturally developed over the last five years by produce experts who have bred together varieties to come up with one that is small, compact and most importantly very productive.

By following the care instructions the small, but powerful plants can each produce up to 150 delicious tomatoes with minimal fuss.

A great idea. It looks as if the plants are small enough to be able to take home on public transport with minimal fuss, too. Perfect for summer.

This is not a plug for Tesco, but I will admit to shopping there regularly for nearly 30 years.

Cannes is as lovely as ever.

Some of my readers cannot see the attraction, but it all depends on when one sees this jewel of the Mediterranean.

There is a brief window between the end of the annual film festival in May and the beginning of the Cannes Lions advertising festival in June when one can experience the city in near normality. Of course, smaller conferences and another international festival — namely the music industry’s MIDEM — take place at that time, but these do not normally impinge as much on city life as the others do.

I’ll have more to write in the coming days, so this is a summary of impressions that my better half SpouseMouse and I noted this year.

Weather

The weather was perfect from start to finish. It was too hot for SpouseMouse during the second week, but we had wall-to-wall sunshine and warm temps.

By contrast, in 2015, we had some rollicking thunderstorms, including one around 6:30 a.m., which brought everyone in our hotel down to breakfast by 7:00 a.m.

Italians

We were surprised at the number of Italian visitors, given that most French people go to Italy for an inexpensive weekend break or holiday.

Femininity and masculinity maintained

Speaking of Italians, they and the French are firmly maintaining male and female roles. Women are feminine and men are masculine.

This was noticeably less common with visitors from northern Europe and North America.

New restaurants

There were a number of new restaurants that opened near the Marché Gambetta near the railway station. I will write about these in future posts.

These are convenient for people staying (and living) in that area. It also means that diners can readily avoid the street hawkers and musicians who panhandle at night near the bigger seafood restaurants along Rue Félix Faure in the centre of town.

Food prices

Restaurant menu prices haven’t gone up much, if at all, since our last visit in 2015, which is good news.

However, the prices of French food and vegetables at Marché Forville in Le Suquet have increased markedly. I can appreciate French talk radio listeners who ring up RMC to say that they do without home-grown produce, buy less of it or plump for Spanish fruit and vegetables which are much less expensive.

French produce is definitely cheaper at the supermarket than at the market stall.

Meat, whether at a butcher’s or the supermarket, is incredibly expensive, probably 50% higher than in the UK.

Shopping

Clothing prices are about the same as in 2015.

One can still find terrific bargains in natural fabrics for men and women at Monoprix and in Rue Meynadier, both of which attract Cannes residents as well as tourists.

Fun Mod’ in Rue Meynadier still has durable, traditional espadrilles in all adult sizes and colours for €6 a pair. You can’t get a better bargain.

Service

Service continues to improve in restaurants, both in terms of getting plates to the table and communication. We can speak French reasonably well, but many wait staff spoke in English initially to be helpful.

Cleanliness

Cannes is a smooth running ship in terms of hygiene.

We did not see any litter. (There are fines of €180 if the authorities see someone littering.)

I saw only one small bit of graffiti — in the upmarket Rue d’Antibes.

The dustmen went around at least daily — twice a day on Tuesdays and Fridays — to collect trash and recycling. There was a man who rode a machine that swept and cleansed the sidewalks of Rue d’Antibes every afternoon.

The majority of dog owners — of which there were plenty — were very serious about cleaning up after their pets, so there was very little canine detritus.

Conclusion

We had a lovely time. For once, we were able to stay for two weeks. The hotel was perfect. We had a room with a sea view and a spacious terrace. The hotel beach was great and the sea water soothing.

I am four to five shades darker than when I left Blighty, for which I am grateful.

More to come now and then over the next week or two. I have much to say.

The head of the US Department of Agriculture Sonny Perdue is the man making school lunches great again.

He is also making farming great again. For too long, American farmers have been looked down upon. That’s all changing. Perdue — not related to the chicken processing Perdues — worked on his family’s farm, has a Ph.D in veterinary science, owns three small agriculture-related businesses and was the governor of the state of Georgia.

His Twitter feed — @SecretarySonny — is not only educational but will brighten the darkest of days.

This is one of my favourites:

He enjoys touring USDA facilities around the country just to pop in for a chat:

He recently went to see the flood damage in Arkansas. The USDA will do what it can to help:

He enjoys visiting farms:

He’s visited grain barges:

He’s delighted that China is once again importing US beef, for the first time since the Bush II administration:

And here he is with his lovely wife Mary:

How many people know what’s going on in the USDA? Follow Sonny Perdue and find out what Big Media aren’t reporting.

Because I’m a foodie, school lunch has been a personal topic of interest over the past five years. See my past posts on the subject:

The US government’s emaciation of America’s schoolchildren (October 2012)

Young Americans hope Trump will make school lunch great again (January 2017)

I now have cause for rejoicing.

Sonny Perdue, President Donald Trump’s Secretary of Agriculture, has only been in the job since April 25, 2017, and, already, he’s making school lunch great again!

On Friday, April 28, the Daily Mail reported:

Sonny Perdue is set to introduce new standards that will give schools more flexibility in relation to the National School Lunch Program.

On May 1, The Guardian reported that new guidelines will pertain to sodium levels, milkfat and grain content (emphases mine below):

Perdue said the program was not effective because kids would not eat the healthier food.

“If kids aren’t eating the food and it’s ending up in the trash, they aren’t getting any nutrition, thus undermining the intent of the program,” Perdue said at a school in Leesburg, Virginia.

Perdue made his announcement at Catoctin Elementary School in Leesburg, Virginia to mark School Nutrition Employee Week. The USDA website has more, including this:

Schools have been facing increasing fiscal burdens as they attempt to adhere to existing, stringent nutrition requirements.  According to USDA figures, school food requirements cost school districts and states an additional $1.22 billion in Fiscal Year 2015.  At the same time costs are going up, most states are reporting that they’ve seen a decrease in student participation in school lunches, as nation-wide about one million students choose not to have a school lunch each day.  This impacts schools in two ways: The decline in school lunch participation means reduced revenue to schools while they simultaneously are encountering increased costs.

It doesn’t make sense, does it?

Of course, bureaucrats in Washington, DC, say Michelle Obama’s school lunch programme, initiated in 2012, is working because schools are complying with it!

“I was talking to some folks in Washington about this, and they said that the current program is working.  ‘How do you know?’ I asked.  They said it’s because 99 percent of schools are at least partially compliant.  Well, only in Washington can that be considered proof that the system is working as it was intended,” Perdue said. 

Too right!

Perdue, who is from the state of Georgia, gave a regional example:

“A perfect example is in the south, where the schools want to serve gritsBut the whole grain variety has little black flakes in it, and the kids won’t eat it.  The school is compliant with the whole grain requirements, but no one is eating the grits.  That doesn’t make any sense.”

Thank you!

Also:

“I’ve got 14 grandchildren, and there is no way that I would propose something if I didn’t think it was good, healthful, and the right thing to do,” Perdue said.  “And here’s the thing about local control: it means that this new flexibility will give schools and states the option of doing what we’re laying out here today.  These are not mandates on schools.

Brilliant!

The USDA announcement has details on the new, flexible programme and a PDF of Perdue’s proclamation.

This photo has a good comparison of school lunches:

It looks as if the USA example is the best case scenario there, because this is what American schoolchildren are normally eating:

 

You can see more awful school lunch pictures at Oola, a foodie site.

Perdue had a standard student lunch when he made his announcement at the Leesburg, Virginia school, one which he paid for (see $20 in his hand):

Here is what the students ate:

This is my favourite tweet from the day:

The Big Buddy bit is true:

Sonny Perdue was sworn in on April 25:

In his opening address to the USDA, he said he was a farmer first:

He rolled up his sleeves and got to work on Day 1:

Since then, he has been on the road visiting USDA employees elsewhere in the United States:

Look at the queue:

Passing on his father’s words to them, he said:

If you take care of the land, the land will take care of you.

Perdue paid a visit to American Royal in Kansas City. American Royal is a non-profit organisation that stages events throughout the year to help farmers and future farmers.

Perdue has a PhD in veterinary science and worked on his family’s farm before starting his own three small agribusinesses.

He must have been delighted to meet these youngsters:

He also met with members of the FFA (Future Farmers of America):

Here he is putting his veterinary experience to use:

He also visited a pork processing plant:

With Sonny Perdue, the future looks much brighter for American agriculture.

It should be noted that Sonny Perdue is not related to the Perdue chicken family.

Follow him @SecretarySonny on Twitter.

Lent ends on the evening of Holy Saturday, generally timed around the first Easter Vigil service.

Many Christians enjoy attending Easter Vigil services to see the blessing and lighting of the Paschal Candle, which is lit at services for the next 40 days, until Ascension Day.

New holy water is blessed in Catholic and High Anglican churches. (Chrism Masses would have been held on Wednesday of Holy Week, at which time bishops bless the oil used in Baptism, Confirmation, Ordination and the Anointing of the Sick and Dying for the next year.)

Traditionally, catechumens — newcomers to the faith — are baptised at this service.

The following post has more information:

What happens on Holy Saturday?

During the day, families are busy purchasing and preparing festive dishes for Easter Day. A popular custom among Polish Catholics is to have their food blessed at church.

(Image credit: annhetzelgunkel.com)

The following post, with the help of the aforementioned website, explains the importance of these traditional ingredients:

Holy Saturday and food traditions

Every Christian culture has certain food traditions. In 2016, Mary Berry, the doyenne of English home cooks, presented a two-part programme for the BBC in which she explored different Easter treats from around the world. Find out more below:

Easter food explored — part 1 (Mary Berry, BBC — 2016)

Easter food explored — part 2 (Mary Berry, BBC — 2016)

A French cooking site has an interesting article on Easter food in Europe and Algeria. ‘Gâteaux de Pâques traditionnels’ has excellent close-up photographs by way of illustration. A summary of the article follows along with my own commentary.

France

In Alsace, the traditional Easter cake is made in the shape of a lamb. It was originally called Osterlammele — Easter lamb — suggesting its German origins.

Easter cakes in other European countries are also in lamb shapes, using special moulds. Polish lamb cakes are elaborately iced and decorated.

The one from Alsace is plainer, lightly dusted with icing sugar. Traditionally, it was wrapped in fine paper in the colours of Alsace or the Vatican.

Regardless of decoration, lamb cakes are rich in eggs, which were traditionally forbidden during Lent.

Wherever it is used, the lamb shape reminds us of the goodness of Christ and that we should follow His example.

All Recipes provides the instructions. The video below might not be the most expert, but I did enjoy watching the two young lads make a lamb cake:

Italy

Pasteria Napoletana is a popular Easter tart.

Its origins go back to pagan times, when a special bread made from spelt was offered to Ceres, the goddess of agriculture and fertility, in springtime.

Wikipedia says that it is possible that early bread evolved into a ritual bread made of honey and milk which catechumens received after their baptism on Easter Eve during the reign of Constantine.

In the 18th century, one of the nuns at the convent of San Gregorio Armeno in Naples, which still exists today, was responsible for the version eaten today. She wanted to create a tart that symbolised the Resurrection, including orange blossom water from the convent’s garden.

The symbolism is as follows: wheat for rebirth, flour for force and strength, eggs for infinity, white ricotta for purity and orange blossom water — along with dried fruit, spices and sugar — for richness.

Wikipedia says that the nuns were ‘geniuses’ in preparing these tarts, which had to be made on Maundy Thursday in order to set properly for Easter. They were then given to wealthy benefactors for the Easter table.

Although variations exist — sometimes with pastry cream added — each must have wheat and ricotta to be considered authentic.

Laura in the Kitchen has a recipe and a video:

Portugal

At Easter, the Portuguese eat folar, bread which can be sweet or savoury.

Sometimes folar is wrapped around whole eggs (before baking) to symbolise new life.

Other variations include chorizo or other charcuterie.

Traditionally, this bread is given to priests, godparents or godchildren as a symbol of happiness and prosperity.

The lady in the video below makes a savoury folar in the most traditional way — in a bread trough. The film is in Portuguese, but you can check it for consistency and shaping while you follow a recipe, in this case from Pocket Cultures:

Austria

Austrians celebrate Easter by including on their tables a rich brioche called Osterpinze or Pinza. (Oster means ‘Easter’.)

This brioche originated in southern Austria. It is shaped into three petals — no doubt to symbolise the Holy Trinity — and sometimes has a coloured Easter egg — the Resurrection and new life — in the centre. Orange blossom water is used in the dough. Some variations also include dried fruits for extra richness.

The Austrians adapted this recipe from pannetone. Italy borders the southern part of the country.

The Bread She Bakes has a recipe in English. Although the video below is in German, watch this gentleman’s techniques:

Algeria

Although Algeria is primarily Muslim today, it is important to remember that North Africa was the cradle of the early Church. One could certainly put forward a case for Christianity being an African faith, because it spread to Europe later.

Christians in Algeria ate Mouna Oranaise at Easter. La Mouna — a mountain — is situated outside of Oran, Algeria’s second largest city. Christians from Oran went to this mountain to celebrate Easter and to break bread.

Although the French article does not say, it seems likely that the bread developed into a brioche when the French arrived and took its present-day form.

All good brioches take time, and the Mouna takes six hours to rise: four initially, after which the dough is divided into two and left to rise for another two hours.

The Mouna has a rich egg glaze and is topped with pearl sugar.

Today, people of all faiths eat Mouna. A Muslim included the recipe on her Pinterest page. A YouTube video appears on the Sephardic (Jewish) food channel.

Christian pied-noirs brought the Mouna recipe to France as an Easter speciality. Make a brioche dough and include orange flower water or lemon zest. Knead the dough well — or use a food processor with a dough hook — to ensure the dough is nice and light:

I am sure that some of these Easter treats cross borders. I am particularly interested in hearing from others with regard to breads and pastries. Feel free to comment below!

In the meantime, I hope that everyone’s Easter preparations go well!

© Churchmouse and Churchmouse Campanologist, 2009-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Churchmouse and Churchmouse Campanologist with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? If you wish to borrow, 1) please use the link from the post, 2) give credit to Churchmouse and Churchmouse Campanologist, 3) copy only selected paragraphs from the post -- not all of it.
PLAGIARISERS will be named and shamed.
First case: June 2-3, 2011 -- resolved

Creative Commons License
Churchmouse Campanologist by Churchmouse is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://churchmousec.wordpress.com/.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,008 other followers

Archive

Calendar of posts

August 2017
S M T W T F S
« Jul    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

http://martinscriblerus.com/

Bloglisting.net - The internets fastest growing blog directory
Powered by WebRing.
This site is a member of WebRing.
To browse visit Here.

Blog Stats

  • 1,136,510 hits