The Dragee: now and then

What confection seems more glamorous than the French dragee (dra-jay)? I imagine myself lounging on a divan, with a kir royale in 1 hand and a package of the sugar coated almonds in the other. Although dragees are popular in Europe we’re discovering new interpretations of these here – starting with the assortment of chocolate κουφετα(dragee) of Recchiuti .

The expression”dragee” comes from the French verb”drague,” meaning to dredge. After extravagant medieval banquets, the dragee (initially simply a spiced lump of sugar) was provided to help in digestion and freshen the breath. The centre is dredged after layer, until the shell is smooth. The town of Verdun would lie in obscurity if not for the dragee as Aix-en-Provence is famous for their calissons. Verdun (from the Lorraine region of Eastern France) has been producing dragees since the 13th century.

You have seen bundles of colored dragees, if you’ve ever flipped through the photos in Martha Stewart Weddings. It has been associated with fertility Since the almond is a seed. And dragees have come to symbolize fertility, prosperity and good fortune – what we wish for groom and the bride. It has been said that the comparison of the candy shell and the bitter nut exemplify the”for better or worse” of wedded life.

Dragees aren’t without controversy here. Public health advocates have questioned the advisability of downing the dragees popular in cookie and cake decorating. The compounds may contain mercury, and I’d be concerned about losing a tooth, when they did not! Since 2003 dragees are banned for sale in California – but readily available online. This brings me to the excellence of chocolate dragees…

If you reside in the Bay Area and want to add dragees to your Easter table, I have some suggestions. For the style that is traditional, head to Teuscher or Richart. Both areas, located on the Sutter Street Union Square block, are favorites on our Tours. But for something see with Recchiuti at the Ferry Building. My favorite would be the slightly crunchy”Peanut Butter Pearls” (you won’t find these in Europe) and the”Cherries 2 Ways” that are positively addictive. If you can not pick, his”Asphalt Jungle” is a combo package. One of my favourite choices for dragees is your Cocoa Room. With flavors like”amaretto tiramisu” and”pumpkin spice,” these trendy confections can double as art when exhibited in glass jars.

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