Shortly after we began dating, my (now) husband introduced me to fruit confit (candied fruit). He held out a tiny sugar coated piece of orange and asked me if I wanted to try it. As I reached for it, he pulled it back and cut off a microscopic piece for me. As I tasted its rich citrus flavor, I momentarily forget about how stingy he had been. “Do you like it?” he queried. “Mmmm,” I responded. “Good, the orange cost $12.” Not only did it taste like the candy of the kings, one apparently also needs a royal salary to afford it!
The delicious flavor (and high cost) of fruit confit is due to its laborious preparation. The term confit comes from the French verb confire (to preserve). This verb first appeared in France during Medieval times when fruit was cooked and preserved in sugar so it would keep without refrigeration. Today, fruit confit is considered a delicacy. To be considered a true confit, all of the water in the fruit must be completely replaced by sugar. Whole fruit is submerged in sugary syrup for up to 3 months (depending on the size of the fruit). The syrup is changed every two days. Small fruit such as cherries, strawberries, and small oranges do not take as long to confit, and therefore are less expensive than larger fruits. If you are lucky enough to stumble upon a whole confit pineapple, melon, or even pumpkin, the price will most likely be very high.
Confiserie Florian (candy shop) in Nice offers free guided tours (in 5 major European languages) during which you will learn more about the confit process, and try samples of their tasty products (the rose petal confit is delightful!). Large groups need a reservation (which can easily be secured via phone). After the tour, you can visit the factory shop where gourmet sweets are available for purchase at factory prices.
The first Confiserie Florian opened in 1949, in Les Gorges du Loup (near Grasse) and still welcomes visitors today. The Nice location opened in 1974 in Nice’s Vieux Port (harbour area). If you find yourself in Grasse or Nice, I highly suggest exploring this sweet slice of culture and picking up some authentic, time-honored treats to bring home to family and friends while you are there. Products available in their shops include:
Aperitifs and flower liqueurs
Jams and preserves
Pâtes de Fruit
Coffee table books
Original Confiserie Florian
Le Pont du Loup
06140 – Tourrettes-sur-Loup (F)
Tél : 00 33 (0)493 59 32 91
14, Quai Papacino
06 300 Nice
Tél : 00 33 (0)4 93 55 43 50
Written by Jen Westmoreland Bouchard for EuropeUpClose.com