Tales from

the Loir

A Weekly Column

November 29, 2000 -Beignets Aux Fleurs d'Acacia

I have been reading alot lately about the traditions of the people in the Vendômois and the regions lengthening the Loir River. No traditions run deeper or are more significant than those of food and wine. But when it comes to the subject of desserts, discoveries are even more precious because they are more rare. The French probably eat more varieties of desserts today than in the good old days. Local historians tell me that the traditional desserts of a hundred years ago where probably quiet simple. There were confitures and compotes that are still enjoyed today but specialties like la compote de verjus (made with muscat grapes) have all but disappeared. Things like tartes aux pommes, galettes and crêpes were reserved for festival days but the children might be treated to something like pain perdu (French toast) flavored with orange blossoms on a weekly basis. I have now learned that there were seasonal desserts that were so special that they still exist today.

Last May when I was doing a randonné pedestre (hike) with my friends Maurice, Simone and Christine in the village of Molineuf near Blois, my attention was directed to beautiful and aromatic flower growing high in a tree along the trail. Simone and Christine first spotted the acacia tree as we were leaving the dark path of the woods. They stopped to tell me why these sweet flowers are prized by bees and humans alike. I have seen the name of acacia on the jars of honey and I know that is a point of pride for beekeepers to advertise that their honey is made from acacia flowers. However, I did not know that people eat the flowers too. The acacia flowers grow in bunches like grapes and have a sweet vanilla aroma. Simone told me that you dip the grappe (bunch)in a beignet (donut) batter and fry it in hot oil.

A couple of weeks later, I decided to try it. I stopped on the side of the road where acacia was flowering. The latter part of May is toward the end of the season for the flower but it is still abundant. In a few minutes I have a sack full of acacia. I make the batter with two eggs, flour, salt, lots of sugar and water. I dip the acacia flowers in the batter and cook it in hot sunflower seed oil. The result is Beignets Aux Fleur d'Acacia. It is easy, authentic and traditional. It is also very, very good.

Ingredients:
Two Eggs
Flour
Salt
Sugar
Grappe d'Acacia (blooms in April and May)
Fry in sunflower seed oil

Enjoy.

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 November 15, Thanksgiving
November 8, Pouse D'Epine
November 1, 2000 Col de Vence: A day on the Moon
October 25, 2000 Cult of the Black Virgin
October 18, 2000 Harvesting Grapes by Hand
October 4, 2000 Provence: All Good Things

 

 

       

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