Tuesday, January 16, 2007

An Old Chestnut (pun intended)

La Maison du Chocolat Marrons Glace Yesterday I marched into La Maison du Chocolat fully intending to shell out  $4-5 bucks for just one marron glace (chestnut). I decided in the name of research I'd must try one of these.
Marrons Glace in ReimsAnd a very special chestnut it is too - a Marron Glace / glazed, candied chestnut takes 4 days to prepare, two spent soaking in a syrupy sugar solution. I saw these in Reims in October but resisted temptation.
Faux chocolate chestnuts at the Salon du ChocolatI was also informed that there were none left at La Maison!
More Reims Marrons
They were sitting politely on the front counter at La Maison during Christmas, but I procrastinated. I thought too sweet, I'll pass. But their Marrons are not too sweet (ont la particularité d'être très peu sucrés). The Marron glace I saw all over the shop were just "dummies". I felt like a crash test dummie. The French are completely nuts (no pun intended) about chestnuts. They do a whole slew of "faux" chestnuts for autumn. The windows were full of them. This marzipan version was sitting in Patrick Roger's window.
I compulsively took pictures of every chestnut that fell across my path (no pun intended). And I passed up every one. These were part of La Mere de Famille's Fall display. All edible.
Marrons are the fruit of Le châtaigner tree and here's a little movie on them. "Chatain" is also the name of chestnut hair color...like blondinette /brunette. The meat is quite nutricious too. Just don't eat too many. Elle peut provoquer des gaz intestinaux si on en fait une grosse consommation. My New Year's resolution - I will not pass up any French chestnuts that come my way in 2007 next Fall. An old chestnut" is a subject/joke which has been repeated so many times that it isn't funny any more.


  1. I am a nut for chestnuts (no pun intended). And I love marron glaces which they sell in Rabat in Chez Paul's and which I buy by the box in airports. And of course, I just spent 7 hours in Charles De Gaulle airport yesterday, and so you can just imagine...

  2. Your blog is really nice!

  3. Next fall you will have to squirrel away some of those!

  4. INCREDIBLE, CAROL!! Each of those chestnuts has my mouth watering!! I can certainly understand the fascination! I LOVE them, too! As a matter of fact, when I could get my hands on fresh from the tree chestnuts, I would render them into chestnut bread aka the American Indian -- DELICIOUS!! Nutty, buttery-rich --!

  5. Anonymous8:36 AM

    Glazed chestnuts...
    Don't go with cold cuts,
    Or with cigarette butts!
    Don't be a putz.
    Get off your butt.
    While there's still a glutt
    Squirrel away your glazed chestnut!
    (no pun intended :)

  6. A friend of mine has a Chestnut forest, well part of a forest in the Cezennes. It is there that most of the Chestnuts in France come from.
    Candied chestnuts, creamed chestnuts, are known, but have you ever had a cake made with chestnut flour? Or chestnut soup?

  7. Tongue in Cheek Antiques
    I've had braised chestnuts with Brussel sprouts and they both get an X cut into them before cooking?!
    They must be joined at the hip :)

  8. "Chataigne" is also the name of a hair color...like blondette or brunette. The meat is quite nutricious too. Just don't eat too many. Elle peut provoquer des gaz intestinaux si on en fait une grosse consommation ! (= gas)

    So interesting! I've colored my hair 'chataigne' (I don't color my hair anymore though). I always loved that 'chestnut brown' color! Also, elle peut provoquer des gaz intestinaux...c'est vrai! :) LOL!

    Merci Carol. I really enjoy visiting your blog :)

  9. Ah Ha!
    It's the Cevennes region of France, in the Ardeche, where French chestnuts come from. You learn alot when you write a blog :)

  10. Anonymous11:26 AM

    Beautiful pictures! I love those marzipan green ones on the tray--how beautiful!

  11. Anonymous11:42 AM

    Another great blog today. And Congrats Simon for winning the Yellow bird painting. That's a wonderful little painting. Enjoy

  12. Anonymous3:22 PM

    Autumn Perfume - love it! no pun intended!!! Ha, you write so wonderfully, and lucky Simon! Its great to see your work going so many incredible places! Congrats!!!

  13. I won!!!!!! I am SO excited! I have another BEAUTIFUL Carol Gillot painting!!

    If you think they look good on the blog..see them in real life!

    How do you catch a Squirrel? Climb a tree and act like a nut....

    ah ha ah! ;o)

  14. I love the packaging with the squirrel shaped like a chestnut! Adorable.

    Perhaps, by next year the shops of Paris will have figured it out that you are the best source of advertising and will start mailing you little boxes of bon bons to blog about. I swear I never leave here without a craving of some sort... tea, chocolate, macaroons...

  15. Stunning photography! Those chestnut treats look incredible!

  16. As much as I love chestnuts, I've never gotten into marron glaces. For the same price I'd rather eat...I dunno, gelato? (OKAY, totally not the same thing, but whatever.)

    Maybe my palate is too unrefined to enjoy a really good marron glace. >__<

    Try one from Pierre Herme if you haven't before? I skipped it, ye know...just went for the macarons.

  17. Yum! Chestnuts! I love them. We've taken to using my mother-in-law's recipe for cornbread-chestnut stuffing every Thanksgiving. I like them in nearly everything.

  18. You've got me drooling. Marron Glacé. There's this small marron glacé manufacturer in Rome whose tiny shop smells like heaven ....
    Dior has a crayon a' sourscils in
    a "marron glacé" shade, btw, zero calories. :-)

    Congratulations, Simon!

  19. Anonymous12:59 PM

    Would you allow me a couple of corrections? (hope I'm not going to put my foot in it though!)
    "la châtaigne" (chestnut) comes from "le châtaigner" (chestnut tree)and "le marron" (conker) comes from "le marronnier" (do you say "conker tree"? your turn to teach ME !)...and not edible...
    But (THERE is THE trick! Even for the French!) when a pedlar sells hot chestnuts in the street, -very rare nowadays-, he cries "chauds les marrons" ("hot conkers" but selling "hot chestnuts"!)

    And the colour for dyeing your hair is "châtain", and, you are right, it means the colour of "châtaignes" !

    One of my grandmothers came from Ardèche and she used to tell me that a lot of people there were so poor (war time) that they had to live on "châtaignes" !!!

  20. CM thanks! you have seen it for real? :o)

    Merisi:- thanks too!

  21. Loved Marie-Noelle's comment...Always one for fine detail!
    I am going to say this, ladies, but don't hate me: Given a marron glace and a chocolate je prefererais le marron.
    Marrons glaces remind me of my mother, serving them on name days and holidays spread over December.

    Thank you, thank you for this entry. I am going to direct link it from my blog!

  22. Marie-Noëlle, the English for 'marron' is 'horse-chestnut' (I'm French, btw) and you took the words out of my... keyboard: I was going to make those same corrections. The use of the same word for chestnut and horse-chestnut in French leads to a lot of confusion.

    I can't stand marrons glacés (please, folks, don't forget the acute on the 'e': Alt + 130 on Number pad); in fact, I can't bear marrons in any shape or form: I went to a boarding school in France, when I was about 11 years old, oh, back in the early '60s, and dessert was - most of the time - yoghurt with a spoonful of crème de marrons. I hated both yoghurt and that horrible, brown, sweet, sickly cream and always tried to give it away to someone else. The problem was that the usual reward for getting good marks in class was an extra helping of dessert, which meant that I always had to eat at least some of that concoction. It traumatised me for life. LOL! Although, marrons glacés are so horribly expensive, anyway, that it's a blessing in disguise.

  23. PS. It's blondinette. There is no such word as blondette. :-)

  24. Dear Slap-yourself-silly..
    I made some changes and not others.
    No more French accents in Blogger = they turn into Chinese characters in the subscriber emails :(
    "la châtaigne"or marrons=makes no sense at all, but if La Maison calls them conkers, so will I :)

  25. Dear Talented Artist
    Thank you for making the changes. Marie-Noëlle might have slapped you too otherwise. ;-)

    I wouldn't worry about subscriber emails: posts need to make sense on blogs and French without accents does not make sense. Sorry. French accents are not just used to indicate stress, like in Italian. The letter 'é' is a different letter from 'ê' and there's nothing much one can do about it.

    I admit the use of marron when we mean châtaigne is confusing, but there again nothing one can do about it. That's the way it is. Everyone in France knows that when someone's talking about 'edible' marron they're in fact talking about châtaigne, and about horse-chestnut (or conker) when it's 'inedible', so we carry on calling them that. Easy peasy. LOL!

  26. Anonymous4:24 PM

    No Simon, haven't seen that painting in person. Wish I could. I'm very excited and happy for you knowing how much you love the first one you got.
    It's just one of my favorites of Carol's. Another being the one on it's way to me. My first one. French Rose bud Tea. You say they are better in person... So I can't wait to see it.
    CM (Cris in Oregon)

  27. hello Carol, I'm a big fan of your blog! Everything you write is so interesting!
    I just wanted to say I love candied chestnuts too and since it's hard to find them where I live, I buy them from France: http://www.histoiresucree.com/product_categories/candied_chestnuts.html


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