Avignon and Regional Specialty Foods:
In Avignon, we came across La Cure Gourmande, a sweet shop with devilishly tempting sweets that are sure to melt the strongest willpower. If you like to try local specialty foods and have got a sweet tooth, you’ll be pleased to know that some of these sweets are from Avignon and the region.
Some Provence Specialty Sweets
Les Papalines d’Avignon is an Avignon specialty that is a mix of chocolate and oregano liqueur from Mont Ventoux. Although it was named in memory of the Avignon popes, this sweet was only created in 1960 by the Union of master confectioners in the Vaucluse departement. This sweet is made of two thin layers of chocolate and sugar with the oregano liqueur in the middle. They are hand-made and only sold by patissiers who are affiliated with the Vaucluse master confectioners. Some 5 tonnes of this sweet is sold each year. Something to look out for on your next Avignon holiday.
Candied fruits from Apt (a commune in the Vaucluse department) – It seems that I’m not the only one with a love of candied fruits. The history Apt’s candied fruits can be traced back to the time of the Popes in Avignon. It appears that some documents mention gifts made by the confectioners of Apt to several Popes in the neighbourhood. That the Avignon popes liked candied fruits is not surprising since during that time, a way of preserving fruit is to candy them.
‘Berlingots’ sweets from Carpentras – Before people got more health conscious, these colourful fruit bon bon were very popular in France in the 1950s and 1960s. They originated in the historic town of Carpentras although how it came to be created is not certain. So, this is where legends take over.
One legend has it that Bertrand de Got, a Carpentras confectioner to Pope Clement V, created the sweet to celebrate the dissolution of the Knights Templar. A later legend links Berlingots to candied fruits – a pastry chef from Carpentras thought that it was a useful way of utilising the left-over syrup from his candied fruit. Sounds plausible.
Nougat from Sault – Nougat too has been around since the Middle Ages. Although Montélimar is the largest producer and its nougat can be found in supermarket shelves, mass production can result in lower quality. This is where nougatiers in Sault stand out. Next time you’re looking for nougat, see if you can find those from Sault.
Melon from Cavaillon – Cavaillon is the melon capital of France. Cavaillon melons are noted for their sweetness and aroma with a high sugar content. Although they’re available from April onwards, the best are those that are ripened in the fields and available from mid-June to September. Ripe Cavaillon melons have a lime green skin with pale green vertical stripes. The Cavillon La Fete du Melon takes place annually on the weekend before July 14th.