The Calisson of Provence: A Sweet Story
The calisson is a small, distinctive, almond-shaped candy which first appeared in Aix-en-Provence in the fifteenth century, during the reign of Good King René. The following legend is often associated with its creation…
A King, a Queen, and a Candy
Jeanne de Laval wasn’t pleased when she found out that her father had signed a marriage contract with King René. Yes, he was a powerful man who had a lot of titles, which could be an attractive quality… but she was 21 years old and he was an “old man” of 45 years.
…Continue reading here for the balance of this legend of the Calisson d’Aix. Was this really the candy that made the Queen smile? Or does this sweet candy have roots in Italy well before the royal marriage?
Margo writes about Good King René and His Fountain here.
More about Calisson d’Aix
Candy might not be the reason you decide to visit Aix-en-Provence, but don’t leave town without sampling the famous Calisson d’Aix. These sweets, made with ground, local almonds (sweet and bitter) and a fruit paste blend of melon confit (preserved in sugar) and orange peel, were officially recognized as part of the heritage of the city in 1990. Traditional calissons have three layers; thin host paper on the bottom, the fruit-almond mixture and a light coating of royal icing on top. Typically, soft-diamond shape calissons are similar in taste to marzipan although not as sweet, in my opinion.
There are so many obvious Italian influences in the South of France (architecture, cuisine, language, religious symbols) that it is entirely believable that the calisson recipe, or a version of it, originated from Italy. A Medieval Latin text, from the 12th century, used the word calisone in reference to a cake made with almonds and flour. According to the World Public Library, “Among the first known references to calissons was in Martino di Canale’s Chronicle of the Venetians in 1275.”
Read more about Calisson d’Aix the Sweet Almond Candy Made in Provence and where to buy these treats.