Sunday 22 June 2008

Sweet stuff: the berlingot nantais

Berlingots are sweet little pyramids from the ancient Breton capital, Nantes. Its position on the river Loire made it a centre for sugar imports in the nineteenth century, to the benefit of confectioners making these fruit-flavoured, hard-boiled bonbons.

No one is quite sure who invented the berlingot, or even how it got its name. Was it introduced by Italians who brought berlingozzo caramels to the region, or did it come from the game of dice berleng, or even the bergot, a local lace headdress? How old is the actual recipe: mediaeval, eighteenth century, or from the 1830s? (There’s a detailed discussion in French here).

Whatever their origins, these sweets are now sold throughout the city; you can even buy berlingot-shaped jewellery and souvenirs. Sweet memories!

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