Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter treats at the village boulangerie

French Village Diaries Easter France Cornuelles boulangerie patisserie

Happy Easter and although here in France we only get a three-day weekend (unlike the four days given in the UK) there is still a sniff of holiday (and chocolate) in the air. Unfortunately for our boulangers it is a very busy weekend and by eight o’clock this morning Bernadette had been up and working for hours, was exhausted and she still had loads still to do. It didn’t stop her chatting away to me for a bit, not much does, but I did feel sorry for her, as they don’t get much time together as a family.

Last year as part of my patisserie challenge, I explained all about the tradition of the triangle shaped biscuit, La Cornuelle, that is eaten at the end of Lent (see here). This morning it was a lovely surprise to see puff pastry versions of the Cornuelle at the boulangerie, available filled with either whipped Chantilly cream and strawberries or vanilla crème patissière. It was a tough decision, but the strawberries and cream won.

French Village Diaries Easter France chocolate bells boulangerie patisserie
Easter bells
My next decision was what Easter chocolate to buy Ed. We prefer quality to quantity, so he only gets one Easter gift, but it is a boulangerie handmade, dark chocolate gift. The choice this morning was bells, chickens or eggs. In France it is traditional for church bells to stop ringing on Maundy Thursday and remain silent until Easter Sunday, when they will ring in celebration of the Resurrection. Somewhere along the line a sweet tale of the bells flying off to Rome and returning with the Easter chocolate for the good children, became tradition. It is therefore common to see chocolate bells with wings in boulangeries and patisseries at Easter. 

French Village Diaries Easter France chocolate eggs boulangerie patisserie
Ed's Easter Egg
This year I chose Ed the egg that was beautifully presented in a box complete with a raffia straw nest and two tiny chocolate chickens. When he cracked it open it was generously filled with dark chocolate fish, a nod to another French tradition at this time of year, poisson d’avril or April fish. Celebrated on 1st April it is considered great fun to stick colourful paper fish on the back of your friends, a bit like an April Fools Day joke.

French Village Diaries Easter France Cornuelles boulangerie patisserie
Cream filled Cornuelle

After lunch we carefully cut our cornuelle in two, although Adrian accused me of choosing the bigger half, and tried to eat it without making a mess. The thin and crispy flaky pastry shattered with every mouthful, while the cream did it’s best to ooze out the sides and escape. It was messy and delicious, not too sweet, creamy but not too rich, with flavour-packed fresh strawberries and as light as air. I’ll be looking out for another one, as I think it may be one of my favourites, but I’ll have to wait until next year. Never mind, as I like to say, less is more and I know I will enjoy it more for only eating it once a year.

There are many different food traditions in the world for Easter, including eating fish instead of meat on Good Friday and the simnel cake with it’s eleven balls of marzipan on the top, one for each of the Apostles except Judas. I baked a tasty fish pie for dinner on Good Friday and if I’d had more time I would have tried a batch of Hot Cross Buns, as I do miss them here in France. I’m also doing lots of cooking with eggs as true to form and thanks to Mother Nature, the goose, the ducks and the chickens are all laying aplenty. A roast lamb meal is often served in UK today, but we have a leg of goat, tucked up in the slow cooker as I write, that will have fallen off the bone by dinnertime and already smells delicious. What are your favourite Easter food traditions?

French Village Diaries Easter France food traditions fish pie
Fish pie (with egg) waiting for mashed potato topping

This post has been linked to Paulita's Dreaming of France blog link. Click here to read more.

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