Joyeuses Pâques!

Joyeuses Pâques!

In my family, we don’t celebrate Easter in a religious way. Unless, of course, you consider a strong taste for chocolate to be a religion of sorts. Which I do.

My sister and I have received chocolate gifts from our parents for Easter every year since we were little. The traditional gift in France is a hollow chocolate shell, shaped like an egg, hen, duck, rabbit or bell, and filled with other confections : small pieces of chocolate shaped like fish and called friture (friture literally means something fried, but it is also the name of the tiny fried fish they serve in the South of France and which those little chocolates are meant to represent), praline-filled eggs, tiny eggs filled with liquor, chocolate-covered pieces of nougatine… This all comes in a characteristic cardboard box with a handle, decorated with Easter-themed illustrations, and which a little girl can recycle in a thousand ways.

We also organize an egg hunt on that occasion: my sister and I will get out of the way while our parents hide little eggs wrapped in colorful foil, in the living-room of our appartment or in the garden if there’s one at hand. Then we’ll come out and look for the eggs with cries of joy, under the amused gaze of our parents, who try hard to remember where on Earth they might have hidden the last ones. Those are sometimes found a few months later, but the loot that is recovered is then split equally between the participants.

We show so much enthusiasm and playful joy at this little ritual – even now that we’re um… 24 and 26 – that the tradition lives on. This year the four of us are spending the week-end in the family vacation house in the Vosges, a mountain range in the East of France. The chocolate eggs come from the local pâtisserie, and we will be conducting the egg hunt ritual in the daffodil-filled garden later this afternoon. Wish me luck!

  • http://www.aspoonfulofsugar.net/blog/ Angela

    Happy Easter Clotilde!! Good luck in your easter egg hunt this afternoon :)

  • Sophie

    Happy Easter to you too! I have similar memories concerning the gifts and this morning I crushed my egg in spite of my age ;-))

  • http://www.murrayhill5.net/blog/inmykitchenblog Deb

    Happy Easter Clotilde, hope you enjoyed the hunt, and you know, you’re never too old to hide and seek Easter eggs! I hunted mine this morning and squeeled in delight over my white chocolate egg…and I’m *ahem* a lot older than you! Cheers!

  • Kateri

    Oh, yummy chocolate memories! I was lucky enough to be in Paris the week before Easter a few years back. The windows of the candy shops were so enchanting–I took lots of pictures. We went in one of the shops and encountered a lovely man–another customer–who escorted us all around the shop and explained everything to us. It was so kind of him, although chocolate is pretty much an international language. I brought home seashell-shaped chocolates with hazelnut filling. Fabulous.

  • Josie

    Happy easter! Eggs hunts are THE BEST…

  • http://www.livejournal.com/community/la_flaneuse Jessica

    Bonjour! I have just started reading your blog with much delight. My boyfriend and I are living in Paris for a year while I do research for my PhD and we are big “foodies” (home is Berkeley, CA). I opened my bell and chicken yesterday and found the fish that you describe, and an egg…but also something that looked like a lobster or crab? Do you have any idea what this might symbolise? Or does it just fall under the category of “friture”?
    I look forward to reading your blog on a regular basis! Thank you for sharing your love of food with the rest of us.
    Ciao,
    Jessica

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Angela and Josie – My sister turned up way more than I did, but that’s because she checked the wood pile first!

    Sophie and Deb – I am a strong believer of you’re-never-too-old-to-do-kid’s-stuff! One should never forget how to squeal in delight…

    Kateri – Mmmh, yes, love the chocolatier’s windows at that time of year!

    Jessica – Absolutely! “Friture” can be in the shape of any kind of seafood… And lucky you, you got a bell *and* a chicken? :)

  • JoAnna M

    I found a link about the symbolism of easter, if anyone’s interested.

    http://mailman.dca.net/pipermail/culturechat/2002-March/000251.html

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    JoAnna – Hm, somebody’s been doing a little research on French holiday foods! :) Thanks for the link!

  • Kelli

    Having just spent my third Easter in Paris, I have some favorite French Easter treats, too — some of the tiny liquor-filled eggs you mentioned, and some adorable Easter meringues from my favorite candy store on Ile-St-Louis made the trip home with me. I love to ogle the lacy chocolate eggs in the fancy candy shop windows. And who can resist the ever-fascinating Kinder Surprise Eggs?!? (I know, they’re available all year… but they’re an Easter treat for me) But you left out my favorite — Nid de Paques! We had some trouble finding them this year… we stopped in every bakery we passed during the last few days before Easter. We finally found some on Saturday evening — right around the corner from our apartment! We couldn’t decide between chocolate and pralinee, so we got both, of course! Mmm… =)

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Kelli – Indeed, I had completely overlooked the “nid de pâques” (Easter nest for the non-French speakers). It’s true, I haven’t seen them in a while, they seem to have fallen out of fashion a bit… Maybe they’re harder to make, and kids arent’s as amused by them as by animal shapes? But I do remember getting them as a kid, stuffed with the cutest little birds and eggs… I’ll try to find some next year!

  • Heikke

    Happy Easter, guess next year we should swap some easter eggs

  • vesna

    heyy, i am from australia, and i am learning french at school .i have to do a assignment about french easter foods. i think this website really helped me! thank you. oh, and umm… did clotilde write this info? cauz i dunno

  • http://www.lickthespoon.co.uk Matthew Short

    Hi, what a wonderful description of traditional French Eggs. My wife learnt her trade in Nice as the funny “English girl” who wanted to be a chef. We’ve now started our own small handmade chocolate business, and managed to produce our first handmade Easter eggs this year using Valrhona chocolate filled with praline min-eggs. No mean feat given a lack of sleep due to our 2 week old baby :)
    Matthew & Diana

  • Don

    years ago we took our 8 yr. old son and a friend camping on Easter. We got up in night and hid candy eggs all over. The friend got up before anyone,found all the candy and ate all of it. Over 2 pounds!! Our son was very upset!

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