Christmas in Provence: the 13 desserts
Christmas in Provence: the 13 desserts

As the December Provençal traditions come to a head, here are the famous 13 desserts to wish you a happy holiday.

As the end of December draws in, we hope you have enjoyed our traditions and dreamt, like we do each year when we plant wheat on Saint Barbara’s day, start making our nativity with our traditional santons, gather around the cacho-fio and Christmas Eve supper, or when at last we come home from mass to lay out the 13 desserts on the Christmas table as we all wait for Santa to come.

Yes, after mass, this year once again, we’ll be laying out the 13 desserts on the table where they will stay for several days so everyone can taste them. Their composition varies from one region to another and sometimes even from one family to another. There must always be what we call the 4 mendiants (beggars) - nougat, fruit, dates, the pompe à huile (olive oil-based galette) or gibassié and confectionery.

These are the 13 desserts in the Fabre family to inspire you to prepare your own:

The 4 mendiants: dried fruit sometimes wrapped in almond paste for gourmets and to occupy our children who love making them themselves.

- dried figs

- walnuts or hazelnuts

- almonds

- raisins and sultanas

The 2 nougats, preferably homemade

- white nougat

- “black” (caramelised) nougat

Fruit

- Green grapes

- Oranges, mandarin oranges or tangerines

Dates

The pompe à huile or gibassié: a Provençal speciality made with flour, olive oil and water. Then it is flavoured with orange flower water, anise seeds and brown sugar... depending on who’s making it.

Confectionery:

- Calissons d’Aix en Provence

- Quince jelly paste (home-made, always a treat)