The Love Story of the French and the Chocolate…
So here you are…if you have thought (so wrongly as I did) that France is all about cheese & wine and maybe all those strange type of meat (they really can and will eat anything) like horse, frogs’ legs & snails and huge lambs ‘leg just to mention really a few of their preferences…you have been a bit mistaken (as I was)…WHY?
Well, France has also not little but pretty big Chocolate Obsession which reaches it peaks at the Easter…I will call it not only obsession but also appreciation & huge AMOUR for the chocolate taste & shape & smell! I haven’t realized this till Easter when I tried chocolate hen and its eggs..they were delicious and I am lucky enough for having some more chocolate eggs and rabbit shape chocolate left and also the access to best worldwide chocolatiers here in France…thanks God for Easter indeed, thanks God for France and its food!
So what does this chocolate means for French!
Apparently, it is Paris which holds the title of the Capital of Chocolate! There are more than 300 chocolate shops in the Paris phone directory lists than in any other city in the world.
The best and the most famous French “designer” artisan-chocolatiers in France are Jean-Paul Hévin, Christian Constant and Pierre Marcolini, and the chains such as l’Atelier du Chocolat, Léonidas, and Jeff de Bruges. They have different origins mainly belgium but they are so popular here and adapted to the French taste which can be particular! On top of the international brands there are many smaller independent chocolatiers and specific for the region or town brands like my favourite Vosin in Lyon!
The French did go further with the chocolate, they invented the art of making chocolate. The traditional French dark chocolate is unique because of the fact that it is the least sweetened chocolate in the world. It has also a typical cocoa content ranging from 62 per cent to 86 per cent or more. It is also known that the French use less butter, cream and sugar in their chocolates so here comes the good news for those on diet – French chocolate is less fattening. Additionally, high-quality dark chocolate (with more than 70 per cent cacao content) protects the cardiovascular system, lower bad cholesterol and aid digestion, to name but a few of its benefits. So feel free to enjoy the French chocolate as much as you wish….there are many of benefits…
The origins of chocolate here in France dates back to 1615, when France’s King Louis XIII married Anne of Austria, daughter of the Spanish king. She was the one who brought hot chocolate to the French court. So it’s now almost 400 years when chocolate is in France. If you are interested in more detailed history of chocolate in France have a read on here.
So as I said there are many famous chocolate specialists here in France. Here is a pretty comprehensive list of them French Chocolatiers
My favourite ones are: Leonidas, La Maison du Chocolat, Jeff de Burges, Marcolini,Voisin. Just to name a few. What is impressive, there is Chocolate French Association. It is a place where chocolate is really being treated with a respect, love, appreciation of the people who cherish it, work with it and want to explore more. Interesting to have a look if you can read in french..
So I could write about the French Love for Chocolate a lot because there is really so much to include, but let me summarize what kind of relationship French people have with Chocolate in just few main points!
- Firstly, French people will usually start a day with the croissants or pain au chocolate indeed! Sweet breakfasts are popular and main ones here in France. I haven’t seen any French eating scrambled eggs and sausages for breakfast as yet. And the access to all those yummy pastries is too easy and it is tempting you each morning indeed. They sell them in any shop, bakery, at the corner, in the metro, in the vending machine…I can confirm they test different to the ones other countries. So if you are abroad and if they tell you those are French croissants and pain au chocolates they probably lie to you.
And how the French got their golden brown, and with a delicious buttery-tasting croissants? Well, they have actually been invented in the 17th-Century in Vienna, Austria. And it was Queen Marie-Antoinett, originally from Vienna, who introduced the Austrian pastry to the French Court during the 18th Century. It was a huge success. The original recipe, using bread dough, changed over the years. It was Parisian bakers in the 20th Century who created the current type of croissant. So thank you very much Queen Marie-Antoinette. And if you are now tempted to have one or two and you are not in France how about trying out this recipe – this is a bit time consuming but so worth it! And finally about pain au chocolate – chocolatine a viennoiserie sweet roll consisting of acuboid-shaped piece of yeast-leavened laminated dough, similar in texture to a puff pastry, with some pieces of dark chocolate in the centre. So the same idea as croissants but different shape and chocolate inside! It is also a common breakfast choice for many French. So if you are more adventurous (in the kitchen anyway) then try not only croissants to bake, here you are – make & bake pain au chocolate. I would like to be helpful here so use this Video instructions in French by French.
- Secondly, French people do LOVE NUTELLA. So you get breakfasts toasts with nutella, cookies with nutella, cakes with nutella and obviously crepes with nutella. You can make them and buy them on a go. They are being sold outdoors and easy accessible for you anytime you feel like sth sweet! I love the idea when you walk through the Vieux Lyon for example and youfind couple of nice guys making and selling this for you.
But obviously they are very popular for any festivals, events, seaside resorts here in France. People got a bit creative (or crazy) about cooking and baking with Nutella so here you are …one hundred Nutella recipes…enjoy and try not to get sick…
- Thirdly, French chocolate desserts. As you can imagine they love not that much baking but more eating all those amazingly looking cakes, desserts, assorted desserts available in shops and pâtisseries. My favourite one is the Joecteur here in Lyon. Visit if you have a chance as this is an amazing Lyonnais experience indeed. The most famous French chocolate desserts are chocolate mousses, crepes with chocolate, eclairs,and chococlate tarts , and we cannot forget about macarons which come in the chocolate taste also. So there are so many chocolate desserts you can only imagine and this baking with chocolate do not stop here so check out more French chocolate recipes on here
- Lastly…the French Easter….as at Christmas time, chocolate is an essential component as you get those boxes of chocolates called papillotes (originally from Lyon – Revillon Chocolate)
and assorted chocolates pralines, as the shops are filled with chocolate and its up to you to make the difficult choice…celebrating Easter in France is exceptional as it comes to chocolate eating! For this festive time, many pâtisseries-chocolateries are performing the real art creating chocolate edible pieces in different shapes with the traditional ones: Easter bunnies, Easter Bells, Easter Hens and little Easter Fish called “Fritures de Pâques’ (those are small fish-shaped chocolates and is the symbol of Christianity)
…to the shapes which surprise even the France inhabitants indeed. So France definitely beats any country in the world who celebrate Easter with chocolate eggs…sorry England …they are a bit better on this ;-). The Easter-chocolate season begins weeks before the actual date. French people start celebrating it by exchanging chocolates with friends, family, and of course they do give a lot of chocs to kids. And they give not only the adorable chocolate animals but also something I found very interesting yet a bit bizarre … impossibly delicate real egg shells filled with rich chocolate,
tiny candy eggs in the ‘nests’, or chocolate eggs filled with hazelnut or pistachio creams…ok I am getting hungry here…anyway and moving on! While chocolates are important to the many countries when celebrating Easter it looks likes bells and fish are unique to French Easter customs indeed. So why chocolate eggs – as we all know it’s a symbol of life and renewal close to catholic beliefs of the resurrection of Christ. Also, as it was forbidden to eat eggs during Lent, at the Easter time people enjoyed them in large quantities.
And why Eater Bunny, well it is an Easter tradition of Germanic and Nordic origin and it was initiated in Alsace region and spread over whole France. And the chocolates bells – apparently the eggs are brought by the Easter Bells on their way back from Rome. And finally! This is what you can call The Chocolate Art by French…I will not write much but ask you to check out this short videoabout French chocolate artist who sculpts the most unusual Easter delights (by Telegraph.co.uk) and be amazed as I am.
OK that’s all about French Easter Chocolate traditions and all (for now) about French Chocolate Obsession…Now I go and eat some chocolates 😉
So you can see the French and Chocolate is a love story, a tasty one which I am supporting! And you should as well, so remember when being in France, don’t miss out on tasting something French with chocolate..such a choice and its everywhere…you can find chocolate in the local chocolatiers, in the hypermarchés, in the crepes but also in the baguettes…strange isn’t it but so tasteful. Bon appetite!
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