Following our previous article « gastronomy in Provence » about specialties of Marseille, here we go with chapter 2 about Aix-en-Provence. Feeling hungry?
Aix-en-Provence is the city of the calissons ! If you have just one souvenir to bring back from there, it is obviously that candy made with almonds, sugar and candied fruits (cantaloupe melons and oranges, sometimes lemons). They are all mixed together and the paste ends up in an almond shaped candy between a layer of wafer and a layer of royal icing.
A cute legend explains how this candy was first made: for the wedding of the King René (last count of Provence in the 15th century) and his wife Jane, the count’s baker made a special candy that day. She was a sad woman who never smiled except that day. And she smiled, for once, not because she was happy to marry him, but because she ate a piece of this candy and she loved it ! Someone next to her said « Di calin soun !» meaning « those are cuddles ! ». Since then, those candies were called calissons and were made with the shape of the queen’smile. Of course, this is just a legend, and it appears that we have the first mention of this candy in the 13thcentury, describing a sort of almond cake coming from Italy, but then developped to its current shape and recipe in Provence. The name could, actually, come from « little chalice » (calissoun in Provencal) as it could have been used during masses, and the shape would come from the shape of an almond.
Anyway, it is a delicious candy, similar to marzipan but with a much frutier taste. You can find it in every bakery and pastry of the city (such as the famous chocolate and calisson store “chocolaterie de Puyricard“), but also at the market every day in the city center!
Enjoy a gourmet tour of Aix-en-Provence with your private tour guide!