Posts Tagged ‘prunes’

Salad with Bacon-Wrapped Agen Prunes

prune saladThis weekend I will be putting the finishing touches on my next column for France magazine En Route. If you live in the Netherlands (and can read Dutch), I hope you enjoyed my last contribution on Brillat-Savarin, a most interesting Frenchman who declared war on carbs long before Atkins ever did, and whose name was given to an unapologetically fatty cheese, known to some as the ‘foie gras’ of cheeses.
He also happened to write one of the most celebrated books on the art of eating and the effect food has on our body, the Physiologie du goût (Physiology of Taste). It was published in 1825, shortly before his death. We can thank Monsieur Brillat-Savarin for the saying “tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you who you are.” Oh, and that lush French dessert soaked in rum known as a Savarin? Yep. Named after him.

If you are interested in food history — and if you happen to be a French culture nerd like me — I highly recommend reading this book, even if only some parts. And yes, it has been translated into English.

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Agen Prune Cake with Armagnac

Prune cakeSweet, glossy and bursting with flavor, Agen prunes have been part of south-west France’s gastronomic history since the 12th century. During that time, crusaders returned back from Syria with Damson plum trees which the Bendectine monks of Clairac, not far from Agen, crossed with their own, local plum variety. The result was a new kind of plum which they called the Ente plum. Since then, the plum has been used to produce the famous pruneaux d’Agen, named after the city from which the prunes were shipped all over Europe. Today, more than half of the production of the fruit is still taking place in the Lot-et-Garonne.
The dark plums are harvested between mid-August and mid-September. By that time, they are so ripe and sun-drenched that the trees either naturally drop them or need nothing more than a gentle shake to let them fall to into the harvesting nets. After careful sorting, the best fruits are dried and preserved for year-round use.
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