Thirteen desserts of Provence at Christmas

Written by on December 11, 2013 in Christmas Markets, French Cuisine, Provence-Alpes

 thirteen desserts of provence

French cuisine – it’s one of the things that make France great. In fact, gastronomy is such a critical part of the heritage of France that it has been recognised with a UNESCO “World intangible Heritage” status. Getting together with family and friends over a meal is a popular activity in France and as you’d expect – at Christmas, it’s taken to a whole new level.

On Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve it is common all over France to have a long dinner called a réveillon. The word comes from the French word reveiller (to wake) because it usually goes on way past midnight so you have to stay awake until the early hours of the next morning!

In Provence, the traditional Christmas Eve meal is known as le gros souper (the big supper) and it ends with a ritual number of 13 desserts (treize desserts).

The desserts represent the last supper of Christ and the 12 apostles and they are laid out symbolically on a table of three tablecloths, with three candles which represent the Trinity. Traditionally the food is set on the table for three days, they are all served at the same time and guests must taste each one.

The practice has been going on for several centuries and though no one can pinpoint exactly when it started, the present form of 13 desserts goes back to the 19th Century.

The thirteen desserts of Provence

thirteen desserts of provenceThe four beggars (dried fruit) which represent four monastic orders which offer aid to the homeless: Raisins (Dominicans); Walnuts or hazelnuts (Augustines); Dried figs (Franciscans); Almonds (Carmelites)

Fresh fruit: such as apples, pears, oranges, melon, grapes and tangerines plus exotic fruits like kiwi and pineapple. Traditionally, locally produced fruits are preserved after the autumn harvests in basements and attics.

Sweets and pastries: biscuits, candied fruit, cake, almond-paste pastries, spiced bread, waffles, brioche, yule log – there is a great choice of sweets that can be included.

Finally there are always two kinds of nougat – dark nougat and white nougat which represent good and evil.

The nougat noir au miel is made with honey and almonds and is a hard candy.

The nougat blanc is soft and made with sugar, eggs, pistachios, honey, and almonds

Recipes for great French desserts
Christmas traditions in France
The Christmas Yule Log or Buche de Noel

Related Articles

South of France and Lavender tour of Provence

A nine-day tour of the south of France in July taking in the lavender fields of Provence which are at their blooming best… Medieval villages, magnificent castles, cafés with tables and chairs spilling out onto cobbled streets and little squares. Narrow streets lined with pastel coloured houses, shops and galleries. Gastronomic good, wonderful wines and […]

Continue Reading

Menton | Mediterranean charm and gastronomy

When life gives you lemons, it’s time to visit Menton. You can be sure that someone there will find a creative use for your fruit. Shops in the bustling traffic-free Rue St Michel teem with products from candles, soaps and soft toys to food and drink. The town’s claim to be lemon capital of the […]

Continue Reading

Gorbio | Stunning medieval village in Cote d’Azur, France

Gorbio, France is a hilltop medieval village, high-up above Menton, in the south-eastern corner of the Côte d’Azur. This picturesque village is a secret place, seemingly forgotten by tourists. As with other historic perched villages, Gorbio has an impressive view, 354 meters above the Mediterranean Sea. You’ll find it in the craggy mountain side of […]

Continue Reading

Antibes is always a good idea!

To paraphrase Audrey Hepburn’s famous quote, “Paris is always a good idea,” I have felt the same way about the enticing old town of Antibes since I first set foot there … let’s just say many decades ago. These days there are a lot of changes happening in the vieille ville. Progress is catching up […]

Continue Reading

The Picasso Museum Antibes

UK arts writer, Tony Cooper, looks in on the Picasso Museum in Antibes on the French Riviera. It’s an area that was loved by the iconic and controversial 20th-century artist… I’m a regular visitor to France and I’m off on yet another great adventure to what I class as my adopted country travelling to Antibes […]

Continue Reading

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed

Comments are closed.

Top