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Almendras Confitadas de Verdun

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Durante mi estadia en el castillo Hattonchâtel en Francia, logre conseguir un tour privado en la fabrica más grande de paladillas/almendras confitadas en Verdun, almendras confitadas Braquier. 

Sr. Heusele, el gerente de Dragées Braquier en Verdun, es el exacto opuesto del producto que el produce. mientras que las almendras cubiertas de azucar son dulces por fueras pero amargas por dentro, el Sr. Heusele en primera instancia se ve algo duro y serio pero despues de media hora se convierte en un hombre muy dulce. El me llevó en un tour privado en la fabrica más grande de  dragée (almendras confitadas) en Verdun. Despues de la entrevista, el Sr. Heusele me dijo que el estaba seguro que me conocia. Le dije que no, pero luego nos dimo cuenta que el me a visto en la television Francesa un par de veces.Que pequeños es el mundo! Esto me dio dos cajas gratis de hermosas almendras confitadas, luego yo compre tanto como pude meter en el carrito de la tienda de la fabrica. 

La gente  a estado cubriendo almendras en miel desde los Romanos, pero desde los 1300 Verdun se convirtio en el centro Europeo de almendras cubiertas en azúzar. De estas se dice que tienen tantos beneficios para la salud comparadas con suplementos de vitamina que ahora hoy se consumen, incluyendo aquellos tales como incrementar la fertilidad. Naturalmente, dragées/almendras cubiertas se convirtieron en el regalo tradicional en bodas y bautismos. La nativa de Italia reina de Francia Caterina de Medisis comenzó comiendo  dragées y ofrecerlas a sus invitados, un poderoso apadrinamiento para el producto..

Sr.Heusele comenzó el tour mostrandome el cuarto donde se seleccionan las almendras. Nosotros solo usamos almendras provenientes de Avola, una villa en Sicilia. Estas son las mas costosas en este negocio,€20 el kilogramo al por mayor. Pero nuestros amigos los Sicilianos nos envian toda de sus almendras y solo algunas lucen lo suficientemente buenas para hacer un buen dragée/almendra confitada. Entonces el trabajod e esta señora es de separar cantidades de almendras a mano. Ella mira cada una de las almendras y dedice cual será el destino de las almendras. Almendras con forma abultadas terminan siendo bañadas en azúcar y son dadas en bodas. Almendras que se derivan de los estándares de belleza fisica son enviadas sin piedad para que sean aplastadas y caramelizadas y ser convertidas en nougatine.

Existen tres tipos de almendras defectuosas en este negocio. De izquierda a derecha: ''pares/gemelas", "torcidas" ó deformadas.

Guardamos nuestras almendras a  6°C (42°F) por que si no las termitas las dañarian, explica Heusele. Con  16 empleados, Braquier hace 100 toneladas of dulces al año.

Antes de que las almendras sean procesadas ella duran 6 horas en un cuarto caliente a 65°C (150°F) para que se sequen. Luego las almendras son cubiertas con goma arabica para prevenir que el aceite de almendra se salga y dañe el producto final dragée/almendra cubierta confitada.

Un sirope es preparado con agua y azúcar  y es hervido en un caldero grande de cobre con un fondo falso el cual permite que el vapor circule. Aqui vemos el lavado en agua caliente, el sirope mismo hace menos vapor.

Las seleccionadas, secadas y gomizadas almendras son llevadas a una habitación grande donde dozenas de contenedores de cobre las revuelven lentamente.

El sirope de azúcar es agregado un cucharón a la vez y el suave movimiento circular gradualmente cubre las almendras con azúcar puliendolas a un punto de un acabado suave. Cuando ellas no son suficientemente cubiertas, una dosis final de azúcar con un poco de colorante es agregado para hacerlas rosadas, ó verdes ó azul.

Los mismos contenedores son usados para todo tipo de dulces, incluyendo avellanas cubiertas en azúcar, almendras con cacao y bombones de chocolates.

A mi como que me gusta esta habitación!

El Sr Heusele me llevó por  un corredor central mientras yo admiraba la arquitectura. Nosotros remodelamos la fabrica recientemente, es ahora una fabrica moderna e iluminada., el explica modestamente.

Entramos a una habitación que parece como una joyeria. Heusele me muestra las joya en su corona. Las hacemos con puro oro - oro comestible, una mezcla de oro con un poco de plata para hacerlo flexible. y por supuesto plateadas.

Estas bellas y doradas almendras cubiertas de azúcar son vendidas en cajas de joyas, mayormente en Dubai. Una deliciosa manera de comerte tus ahorros!

El lugar donde se empacan las cajas tiene una atmosfera de concetración y trabajo.

Le pregunte al hombre que  pesa las almendras cubiertas en cacao sbre el cual es la tolerancia en medidas. Todos ellos se rieron, luego el contesta el punto es que siempre tengas por lo menos la cantidad que dice en la caja, de lo contrario recibiriamos reclamos! La temporada alta es entre Pascua y Agosto, cuando la mayoria de las bodas toman lugar. 

Luego hicimos una corta parada en la tienda de la fabrica, un espacio enorme lleno con dulces y caramelos de cada color conocido pro el hombre. Pero estos no son hechos de mala calidad cubiertos con quimicos industriales el cual vemos en tiendas citadinas. Estos son todos hechos artesanalmente, hechos a mano donde la almendra es conocida por su primer nombre. Para ser caramelos de lujos, estos son considerablemente economicos en la fabrica. Llene el maletero de mi auto con las combinaciones mas improbables de azucar y almendras, pague y luego regrese para ver el producto más intrigante producido en Braquier.

Cliquea abajo para leer la segunda parte de este articulo - la cascara  explosiva de artillreria comestible.

El Sr Heusele no considera que este sea el producto más intrigante hecho en Braquier es de buen gusto. Pero vendemos 1000 cascaras de chocolate al año, a la gente les encanta. Solo 200 son exportadas, principalmente a el Reino Unido UK. Ya no podemos exportarlas a Estados Unidos de America.

Esto no es un mal producto chino. Cada cascara de artilleria tiene una base de cobre tejida a mano.

La señora a cargo de la artilelria esambla cada base de la cascara a mano...

... cuidadosamente atando el hilo de algoldon hacia una pequeña camara llena de polvora sin humo, la clase usada en armas.

La artilleria de cascaras de chocolate viene en tres versiones "10", "15" y "20", de acuerdo con las cosas que lleve por dentro. Estos trabajan bien, los unicos reclamos que hemos recibido de vez en cuando es que hay 19 cosas dentro de una cascara de "20" shell, dice  Heusele. Ellas se venden por  €78 a €108 la pieza. Algunas personas las ordenan especiales, y preguntan por anillos de boda ó llaves de automobiles para ser colocados adentro de la cascara. Con los altos precios de la gasolina que llegan al techo, es esta una buena idea?

Las cascaras de chocolate son colocadas de arriba a abajo, llenas de dulces y entre otras cosas, y finalmente el mecanismo de explosión el cual está en la base cuidadosamente colocada.

Posiblemente puedes encontrar algo similar, pero menos sabroso, bombas de boda en algun otro lugar. Pero sin embargo  el Sr Heusele insiste que  Braquier vendia estas cascaras en 1869, la mención de la Bomba Verdun para el postre es para acaparar la atención de aún aquellos con poca cultura historica. Verdun es conocido como el centro de una de las peores batallas de la segunda guerra mundial.

El visitante de Verdun el cual necesita un recordatorio de cuan traseunte es la vida humana necesita conducir 2 millas por el mismo camino de Braquier, y llegará a el Cementerio Douaumont Ossuary. En el 1916 fue un año el cual se dieron muchas muertes, con operaciones militares en Verdun, dejando un estimado de 300,000 soldados fallecidos sobre los campos de batalla en apenas pocos meses. Pétain, el cual defendió exitosamente en Verdun, inaguró un gran osario en 1920 donde los huesos de los jovenes de aquellos fallecidos pueden ser recordados por sus familias quienes no pudieron tener tumbas para llorar.

Una capilla fue hecha para cada uno de los 52 sectores de la Batalla de Verdun dentro de la gigante iglesia con forma de un femur negro con cascaras de artillerias como campanario. Ellos dicen que fue diseñada para que luciera como una espada gigante enterrada en la tierra. Esta no es una vista que se olvida facilmente, y cualquier aficionado a las guerras debe visitar este lugar para que vea en lo que resulta una guerra. La luz interna del osario viene de una vidrio rojo el cual hizo que inmediamente mi camara tuviera una ataque cerebral. Mantuve la impresión del color tal cual como se siente dentro de este lugar, el cual estas alrededor de restos humanos de 300,000 personas. 

Durante la primera  Guerra del Golfo, en 1991, la televisión Francesa entrevisto a Antoine Pinay, un ex ministro de Finanzas y veterano de la segunda guerra mundial. La periodista queria que el bendiciera la guerra del golfo y decir que la causa era justa. Aúnr ecuerdo como se desabotonaba sus mangas. Ves, dijo el, mostrando una cicatriz en su muñeca/mano izquierda, fui herido en la primera guerra mundial. Y todavia tengo un pedazo del residuo de la bala dentro. Ahora tengo 100 años, y me hace sufrir todos lso dias de mi vida. Asi que entonces Madam, no le deseo la guerra a nadie. 

 

Puedes visitar  Dragées Braquier en Verdun y ser parte de un tour publico de la fabrica ó comprar en la tienda de la misma:

Dragées Braquier
http://www.dragees-braquier.com
email
50, rue du Fort de Vaux
F-55100 Verdun
France


383400 visitas


53 comentarios

  • #1
  • Comment by Ariun
Wow. Merci beaucoup, FX. I await the next installment with great impatience!
What an inspirational post. I thank you for TWO lessons I have learned today. One of candy, and of the impact of wars. Funny how the two are linked by a tragic point in history.

I wouldn't mind getting my grubby cook's fingers on those candies to give them a try either.

Thank you for a thought-provoking post.
You know, those gold and silver coated almonds are very commonly used in Greece for memorial services (!). Anyway I enjoyed your Isanbul post too and if you ever travel to Athens please contact me. I would be happy to show you around.
Francois, what a way to show opposite poles of reality... The sweetness and pleasure of life, as depicted by the candies, and the bitterness of war and death in the Verdun countryside.

Looking forward to new posts about your culinary experiences.They complete the day for me.
I love sugared almonds so much - thank you for such an interest ing post. My son is studying the war in history at the moment so I will share you post with him too. Thank for you adding the extra photos.
  • #6
  • Answered by fx
Diane, thanks for dropping by! A visit to Verdun will reset everybody's clock as far as war is concerned. I'm glad there is something for our generations to see of that abysmal war, now that all those who saw it have gone!
  • #7
  • Answered by fx
Feyoh, thanks for your kind words! I'm glad that you could see this with my eyes, this is the paradox in Verdun, sweet candies manufactured in a place known for some of the most abject and useless butchery. But lovely people and great confectionery!
  • #8
  • Answered by fx
Johanna, thanks for your comment, I didn't know that such almonds were used for funeral services! Do they place one in the deceased's mouth so that he can pay his fare on Charon's ferry, like back in the days? I would very much like to visit Greece - what do you think could be made into an article on FXcuisine in Athens? Would it be possible for me to see the kitchens of one of these monasteries on a hill?
  • #9
  • Answered by fx
Jason, I've been eating dragées for a solid 2 weeks now and still not bored!
  • #10
  • Answered by fx
Ariun, the next Hattonchâtel installment will be the redcurrant jam, then on with the medieval banquet!
What amazing decadence!
How cool would it be to give your wife a box of these for valentines day?
Ride it like you stole it
  • #12
  • Comment by trish
Another fabulous article. I really look forward to your posts - (and now I'm late for work - again :))

Trish
  • #13
  • Comment by Mary Sanavia
Hi! All your articles are so interesting and have such beautiful pictures!. Thank you for taking the time and effort to share this wonderful places with all of us. The last one (kebabs) had some beautiful,mouthwatering pictures, I hope I can go there someday and I will know where and what to eat! I love Baklavas,so I loved that picture the most. (unreal green pistachios!).I'll be waiting for your next post.
  • #14
  • Comment by Sarah
Did you know? Silver and gold dragées are illegal in California! I guess the metals they use have tiny, insignificant trace amounts of heavy metals in them that wouldn't harm a baby, but it's enough for our government to say we can't have them. So it's yet another thing I have to be naughty and have a friend send to me if I ever want to use them.
First you hit me with the beautiful candies. Then you ever so gently hit me again with the graves of the soldiers.  Two powerful emotions in one post!  I am floored.
  • #16
  • Comment by Jason
The Douaumont ossuary is incredible. The French have honored their dead very well. Thanks for such an enlightening post!
What a fascinating article!  Great photos too!  We, Italians give these as favors for many special events, especially weddings. I still have my little bunch of almonds from my wedding over 20 years ago.  The funny thing is, I don't ever remember anyone actually eating them. ;)
  • #18
  • Comment by Laura
I always hated sugar-coated almonds.  Is it possible that I just never had a good one, like those from dragées Braquier?
What an amazing article. I've had those almonds in the US, they were called "jordan almonds", and not very good. These look like they taste amazing, as well as the cocoa coated ones. (which intrigue me more).
  • #20
  • Comment by Ivan Seligman
I love your thoughtful posts, and clean photographs. Who else could link candies and war. Glad the latter was not glamorized. It saddens me every day I read about our young men maimed and dying in Afghanistan and Iraq. Make candy, not war?

Thank you for showing me a part of the world, both cooler and less hurricane prone than semitropical Florida!
Ivan
  • #21
  • Comment by wabgalant
Thats wonderful.
  • #22
  • Comment by Stephen
Bravo!  Wonderful article!

Two quick questions:

1.  Any links to video of your appearance on French TV?

2.  Do the chocolate artillery shells actually explode?  Are they classified as a novelty firework or something similar?  What happens to the contents?  
  • #23
  • Answered by fx
Stephen, I can send you the links if you want. The chocolate shells are what English speakers call, I think, "party poppers", they do explode and throw a shower of cheap gadgets and expensive dragées all over the table. I wanted to try and photograph one exploding, but at €80 a pop and 5 tries to get one right, that's more gadgets than I need!
  • #24
  • Answered by fx
Ivan, thanks for visiting! Ah yes, war, well during WWI the young men did not last very long, in some battles tens of thousands died within hours of starting their tour of duty, and chopped down to pieces by 50 caliber machine guns. Nothing like the wars we see today, as horrible as these are too. Make candies, not war, that's my motto.
  • #25
  • Answered by fx
Laura, these almonds have a very delicate taste, first you suck it for a moment, then you give in and crunch them and your mouth is filled with delicate almond flavor. Or you get one with toasted-and-caramelized almond bits and the taste is that much more intense. Or one with chocolate and you have to close your eyes by fear of crying with delight. We also make the chocolate ones in Switzerland, actually you can make them at home, I'll try to post an article some day.
  • #26
  • Answered by fx
Laura, where did come from the best sugar-coated almond you ever tasted (but hated)? I fear there are many classes of these candies out there, but as Oscar Wilde, I have very simple tastes: the best always satisfies me.
  • #27
  • Answered by fx
Susan, but you should throw rices grains at weddings and *eat* the sugar-coated almonds. The Romans believed these increased fertility - lots of kids who will have their own wedding one day!
  • #28
  • Answered by fx
Jason, indeed this ossuary is awesome, and what's more, circumstances have made that Germans and French are buried in it, I believe, because they could not always distinguish the bones. President Kohl and Mitterand chose this very spot in 1984 to hold hands for their common memorial day honoring the people who gave their life for that delirious war.
  • #29
  • Answered by fx
Nate, I'm glad that this sweet, then bitter article pleased you!
  • #30
  • Answered by fx
Sarah, ah but in California they will eventually ban everything. Foie gras, bottled water, now silver dragées. And I'm sure you get 3 to 5 in the state penitentiary if you eat them across state lines. You deserve better politicians!
  • #31
  • Answered by fx
Mary, thanks for visiting my site, I'm glad my articles gave you mouthwater ideas for future travels!
  • #32
  • Answered by fx
Trish, one last gluttonous look at my blog and off to work!
  • #33
  • Answered by fx
Dave, you can also get the chocolate ones at Auer in Geneva and in other places, probably in Paris too and maybe mail order. Definitely an elegant Valentine present!
  • #34
  • Comment by Kat
Only the shameless conspicuous consumer idiots in a place like Dubai that is literally built on slave labor and indentured servitude would buy something as stupid as gilded almonds in jewelry boxes.  No man should be forced to spend his money any certain way but he is still open for criticism and these people are should have it heaped on them.
  • #35
  • Comment by Deborah Stratmann
I did like this article ... and the wonderful photos. We are great fans of the almond dragées. I try always to keep some on hand for the young boy who lives downstairs. I think he will be interested to see how they are made.

Thank you,
dws
  • #36
  • Answered by fx
Deborah thanks for your visit and glad to hear you found the visit and behind-the-scenes interesting!
  • #37
  • Answered by fx
"Kat" from Miami uses my blog to flush the anger and bitterness she's got inside, insulting the people of Dubai. Well, I am not a psychiatrist so I'll limit myself to answering the arguments she used in the self-cleaning.
1) Is Dubai built on "slave labor"? Well if we applied the same strict moral criterias as she seems to use to other cities, what would people think of Shanghai? Or Washington, they certainly had real slaves there? I am not sure how people in Dubai would say, but down here we might say "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?".
2) About the gilded almonds being "stupid" and a sign of "shameless conspicuous consumer idiots", I might point out that the expression was coined by Thorstein Veblen in a book which I warmly recommend but which spoke mainly about America if my memory serves me right. There are far more people in Paris eating gilded chocolates than those in Dubai who eat imported French gilded almonds. What does it matter to you in they eat gold rather than having it, like you,  on the connectors of your cellular phone's computer chips?
This is a great photo essay of your visit!
  • #39
  • Answered by fx
Shari thanks for visiting and I hope to see you back!
  • #40
  • Comment by Betsi
Dear FX,

Isn't Dubai a hot tourist spot?,I believe the reason why these Verdun's Almonds are being exported there is because of the higly demand of luxury and fancy items from around the world by TOURISTS, this is my opinion, nothing to do if Dubai natives or residents are eating gold instead of having it.
How unfortunate some people use your blog to spit anger.
Thank you for sharing this!  I am keen to try making my own medieval comfits, which are done with the same technique as sugared almonds, but with tiny spices instead, so seeing the factory photos is very inspirational.

Kiriel
Thoroughly entralled by the series, Francois.
  • #43
  • Answered by fx
Cynthia, thanks for visiting and on Friday I'll post the red currant deseeded with quills article, I just took a few more pictures of the jam, really delicious!
  • #44
  • Comment by Patrick
Hi,
I think you have made a small semantic error. Nothing major, just a slip of the brain!

you have written "Almonds that DERIVE from the established standards of physical beauty are mercilessly sent to be crushed and caramelized into nougatine."

I believe you intended to write "Almonds that DEVIATE from the established standards..."

Please don't include this as a comment.

Love the recipes and photographs!
I just loved your 'almond' story!  Thanks for all the photos.  I must post your site on mine..I just need the time..oh heck, I'll do it when I finish this.  This is a new website, gave you my old one, but this one is advertised in my ol' home town's newspaper, so I'll make a new webpage:  'Wonderful Websites', and I'll put your's at the top.

Re: Dubai

Friends of ours live & work in Dubai.  Yes, it is fancy, fancy there!  It is also very, very hot.  We have not visited there; our visits are strickly to Florida and the Caymans, with no desire to visit Dubai.  Loads of tourist there, and they all have the big bucks to spend, so gold almonds would peak their palette.

Take care. Your efforts are appreciated!
  • #46
  • Answered by fx
Eleanor, thanks for linking to FXcuisine, much appreciated! I myself hope to visit Dubai once, seems a thrilling place. But for now, scorched crane seems to be the specialty, I'll wait for the building boom to subside...
  • #47
  • Answered by fx
Patrick, thanks for the tip, unfortunately my trusted English editors are on vacation and more than the occasional typo escaped me. Do not hesitate to let me know if you find more!
  • #48
  • Comment by chris
Hello fx
lovely post. except for the bomb. I have one small gripe. under one of the photos you write
would it be too much to ask that you re-phrase it to read  
Ithink i understand what you were expressing. But I doubt you mean to say that every single person of Chinese heritage in the world works to a low standard. I certainly do not.
is that what you meant?

a slightly wounded, proudly Chinese, pretty regular visitor to this site. Chris
  • #49
  • Answered by fx
Dear Chris, I am very sorry if you felt slightly offended at my mention of a low-quality Chinese goods. I do not mean to say, at all, that Chinese people do not produce high-quality goods, and myself I drink every day Chinese tea, that's the only tea I would ever drink. I do not know much about China but it is clear to me at least that in the matter of tea nothing beats the refinement of China. And I'm sure many other things are of the same level, however you must agree that in the last 10 years China has become the huge economic power that it is by exporting mass products at the most competitive price possible. Inevitably, most of those products are not in the upper end of the market in terms of quality. But I do not mean to say that the Chinese cannot produce high quality products - I know it for a fact that they do some of the most refined teas and teapots in the world, and that can only be the tip of the iceberg I can see from my corner of the world! So, once again I apologize if this has offended readers of Chinese descent.
  • #50
  • Comment by Catherine
FX, although I am as taken aback by Kat's vehemence as anyone, there may be something to be said for the concept of evolving social mores, and while slavery was acceptable 300 years ago, times have changed. Nor is it hypocritical of us to realize the wrongdoing going on there now--I don't hold modern Germans responsible for the Holocaust, so I don't believe I should be held responsible for my ancestors' views on slavery.

I don't know why she saw fit to sour your article because of a fleeting reference to Dubai though, that was just rude.
  • #51
  • Answered by fx
Catherine, I am not one to cast the first stone, but my feeble capacity does not grasp how slavery was "acceptable" 300 years ago but not any more today. "Accepted", sure, but "acceptable" implies a constant moral standard that, given past circumstances, made it OK. The original poster commented on Dubai being a city built on slave labor, and she's from the US, so I think it's fair to point to her that she does not need to go as far as Dubai to point a finger at a city "built by slaves". Obviously I am not the one pointing the finger. But let's leave it at that and return to being slaves only of our passion for food.
  • #52
  • Comment by Howard
I lived quite near this factory when I was a child back in the early 1960's. Whenever I stopped by the workers would let me have a look around and then fill my smock pockets with coated almonds. Of course the factory was not quite as clean back then.
I also remember the chocolate Bomb shells being sold in the local sweet shops. The biggest one came with a screen you set around it for safety. I always wanted one for my birthday but we could never afford any of them.
Thanks for the memory nudge.
  • #53
  • Comment by GERMAN GARZON
Interesante el lujo e historia de esta empresa  solo que nosotros apenas comenzamos y esperaremos permanecer en el tiempo con buenos productos Soy de Colombia y quisiera saber  en cual pais producen almendras  que podamos importar a un precio economico ya que nuestros productos los ubicamos en mercados populares   
gracias por su articulo y por cu colaboracion.



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