OLIVES FROM SOUTHERN FRANCE

Olives from the South of France. . .Olives and oil mill CalanquetBarral French Lucques Olives 6.5 ozConsidered the gastronomic olive par excellence, the Lucques du Languedoc olive is one of the best olives available. Easily recognized by its crescent moon shape and its bright green skin, it is a large, meaty, mellow olive. These olives are produced along part of the Mediterranean coast of southern France & in Saint Remy,

a visitor can experience tours and tastings at an olive oil mill (Moulin du Calanquet) offering a chance to sample some of the world’s best pressed from olives grown in this vicinity.

Image result for languedoc olives

 

What strikes me immediately about both of these areas of France is the common nature of olive trees – they grow in gardens, they grow on pavements, they grow in front of supermarkets, they grow in the middle of roundabouts….

Olive tree preserved in the middle of this town courtyard…

Image result for images of olive trees in french towns

Image result for olive trees potted in franceAbove, live potted olive trees used for shade and decoration.

The potted olive trees below are products we carry at Aubergine Antiques and our Antique garden shop, RF Antiques —  They are dried and preserved, but look unbelievably “real”.  We sell them at a wonderful price point (around $100) and they make a beautiful “French” addition to your kitchen or outside on a bistro table.

Aubergine Antiques 251-928-0902  and  RF Antiques 251-928-8336

.          Related imageImage result for olive trees potted in france

We also carry a variety of olive wood products like:  Jam spoons, lemon reamers, salt and pepper mills, olive skewers, and other kitchen items.  Easy to care for:  gently wash with soap and warm water and then nourish with olive oil.  

SAINT REMY de PROVENCE

St Remy de Provence is found in the Alpilles region nestled between the Durance and the Rhône rivers.  Here olive trees carpet the sloping hillsides.Alpilles Provence

Not only does this area have a vibrant use for growing and harvesting olives, but it has a rich artistic history.  It is here that Vincent Van Gogh painted some of his last paintings such as Starry Night and Olive Trees

Vincent van Gogh, Olive trees with yellow sky and sun, 1889

A highlight of Saint-Rémy is Saint-Paul de Mausole, the monastery-turned-asylum where artist Vincent van Gogh voluntarily committed himself after cutting his ear. (New research suggests that he severed not just the earlobe but nearly the entire ear.)

asylum Saint-Paul St-RemySaint-Paul still functions as a psychiatric hospital, although portions are open to the public.  You can visit a re-creation of his humble room, the chapel, the cloisters, and some of the grounds.Van Gogh St. Paul

St. Remy is also known for its markets, one of the most popular on Wednesdays –vendors selling olives, breads, cheeses, fruits and vegetables, honeys, jams, meat, and fish.marché St Remy

A French favorite – baked bread with an olive paste spread with meat and cheeses of the region.Related image

Enjoy olives from France and visit the Provence region if you have the chance.  Quaint villages, less hurried and beautiful weather — a gastronomic adventure and enjoyment for the visual senses!

Au Revoir!  A La Prochaine!!

Shades of the South

Related image

LAVENDER

Southern France is known for its colors of the earth – one of those colors is purple lavender.  The perfumed plant called LAVENDER is naturally at home in this sun drenched area of France!Lavender Heather in Decoupage Pot

The fragrance of Lavender is smooth, delicate and unmistakable.  This plant originates as far back as Tutankhamun and Jesus  – Tombs were fragranced with it and feet anointed, but even as historical as that is, it is really accurate to say that “Lavender is the soul of Provence”.

It originated in France around 600BC when traders from Greece came.  The plant quickly acclimated and flourished under the Provencial sun.  This plant and the climate of Provence attracted artists Image result for images of famous paintings with lavender fieldssuch as Vincent van Gogh, Matisse and Gauguin who used this deep colored flower in many of their paintings.

The region of Provence is one of the worlds largest lavender producers.  It’s essential oils are used to make candles, beauty products and other perfumed items.  Image result for images of lavender flowers on top of cheese

Harvest time is from June to August when the flowers are dried to be used as herbs, in herb mixes and using the oil from the flower for perfumes, soaps and candles.  The first perfume factories in Grasse (one being Galimard in 1747) still today has a following.Related image

Image result for images of French lavender

NOTE:  Cleopatra is said to have seduced Julius Casear and Mark Antony while wearing lavender perfume.

Image result for images of french lavender fields

While the beautiful fragrance has been historical in seduction it also has a history of being used as a medicinal – It has been used to help burns heal quicker and is currently being tested to reduce the size of cancerous tumors.

Lavender is a valuable source of nectar for bees, producing a wonderful honey.

Related image

And the flowers are used culinarily as well, lending a floral, slightly sweet, and elegant flavor to many dishes. It pairs well with sheep and goat cheeses—a few little buds atop lavender honey would be the perfect finishing touch.Image result for images of goat cheese with lavender

  1. Place the goat cheese slices on a serving platter.
  2. Drizzle with honey, sprinkle with lavender and nuts, and refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.

Lavender buds can also be candied or used to infuse spirits, sugar, oil, and many other goodies. And the tea, of course, is divine.

Lavender Earl Grey Tea

A lovely bit of lavender hospitality….
 
1/2 cup English breakfast tea leaves
½ cup Orange pekoe tea leaves
1/3 cup Earl Grey tea leaves
1-2 tablespoons dried lavender
 
Toss in a bowl; store in a tea tin and brew, as per regular black tea.
This is nice if you find lilac coloured, linen to make tea bags from.

Aubergine Antiques carries bundles of lavender as seen below on the beautiful buffet d’corps also from the Southern region of France.  This buffet d’corps is available for purchase as is the lavender bouquets.

Herbs de Provence is another common sight at this French culinary shop located in downtown Fairhope, AL – Come visit us and gather up your supply of lavender products.

 

Related imageRelated image

**Lavender the edible, flavorful, delicately scented flower**

P.S.

From the South of France we also carry  rush seat chairs….251-928-4808 Crown and Colony Antiques or Call Aubergines at 251-928-0902

These are all currently in stock!

Au Revoir!  A La Prochaine!!

BEE CONSERVATION in France & the US

HONEY BEES Image result for image of a honey bee

It’s summer time in the US and in most of Europe.  With it, Summer brings flowers and the buzzing bee – fueling my ever present interest in bees and spurring me to write this post – For Defining France this is our second post on our valued friend, the HONEY BEE.

Continue reading “BEE CONSERVATION in France & the US”

FRENCH TOBACCO JARS

 

THE FRENCH TOBACCO JAR – Whimsical, serious and beloved

And, while we all know that tobacco has health risks….In France, smoking still has that certain je ne sais quoi !  

Related image

France is known for its historical attachment to smoking as far back as Kings using snuff, to soldiers smoking to relieve stress during the World Wars.  France’s early history of tobacco growing dates back to 1556  – when tobacco was introduced to France as an herbal cure for ailments in peasants.  It was of particular importance for the poor of the country who used it as a hunger suppressant (this was also the reason for the popularity of tea in Europe).

Image result for history of the french tobacco jarTobacco storage jars have been used since the 1700’s when soldiers who served in the French military gained a liking for tobacco.

Image result for images of french soldier in the 1800's smoking

 

French foreign legion soldiers smoking pipes for comfort and calm.   Below you see a tobacco jar made from shell casings.

In the 1800’s/1900’s these individuals as well as others, found that it was far cheaper to maintain small stores of tobacco and roll their own cigarettes or use the substance in a pipe, than to buy ready-made cigars or cigarettes.

French 75 mm shellcase tobacco jar | Flickr - Photo Sharing!             Vintage advertising poster / Papier à cigarettes Le Lapin / Ancienne affiche publicitaire, publicitéImage result for images of french soldiers rolling cigarettes

The tobacco jars in this post show variety and how wide an audience that participated in loose tobacco.French Majolica Lidded Humidor Frog with Pipe, circa 1880, 8½ highFrench Majolica Lidded Humidor Frog with Pipe, circa 1880 and a whimsical “turkey man” humorous jar – very indicative of majolica and the era

Humorous and highly decorative tobacco jar by Thomas Sergent

found at chairish.com

FRANCE’s Nicotine–

Tobacco smoking is so engrained in French history that nicotine is named after Jean Nicot, a 16th-century French ambassador to Portugal who presented  Catherine de Medici tobacco leaves to cure her sons migraines. It  quickly became known as  the “Queen’s herb”.  After this tobacco became a staple crop in French gardens and, by the early 1600s, the tobacco habit was firmly established in France!

French White Art Glass Tobacco Humidor or Cookie Jar w Street Workers on Sides & Brass Lid c 1900

A humidor jar was originally intended as a decorative holder for tobacco and at some point the name evolved into tobacco jar.  But these decorative jars were also used for biscuits and cookies and in the very early years they would even contain “snuff”:

Snuff is a smokeless tobacco made from ground or pulverised tobacco leaves. It is inhaled or “snuffed” into the nasal cavity, delivering a swift hit of nicotine and a lasting flavoured scent

 Boom Time for the tobacco jar:

Peak production occurred during the middle and late Victorian era when pipe smoking had replaced snuff as the primary form of tobacco utilization. The Industrial Revolution was at its height and mass production in ceramics was enhanced with coal fired kilns. Breakable ceramics traveled with relative impunity and at lower cost on railroads than on wagons. Production of the more modest pieces must have been enormous because we still see large numbers today.

 

French Majolica Tobacco Jar with PipesFrench Antique Majolica Tobacco Set. Ceramic Tobacco Jar, Cigarette Holder, Ashtray and Platter. Desk Organizer. Hors d'oeuvre Set.

Above a glazed tobacco jar “set” with a place to prop a pipe and below a stunning Antique French Tobacco Jar, Ceramic Jar with Tin Lid, Mid VictorianStunning Antique French Tobacco Jar, Ceramic Jar with Tin Lid, Mid Victorian, BrnRappee, Traditional Antique, Collectible Jar, Old PotFrench Porcelain Tobacco Jar Paris, 19th century In the form of a Turkish man's head. Height 6 1/4 inches.

French Porcelain Tobacco Jar Paris, 19th century In the form of a Turkish man’s head.

19th Century Majolica Palissy Tobacco Jar Thomas Sergent | See more antique and modern Snuff Boxes and Tobacco Boxes at https://www.1stdibs.com/furniture/decorative-objects/boxes/snuff-boxes

19th Century Majolica Palissy Tobacco Jar – Naturalistic movement of the end of 19th century. This jar is in the shape of a trunk with a bird threatened by a snake.French 19th Century Tobacco Jar With Floral Design and SnailFrench 19th Century Tobacco Jar With Floral Design and SnailFrench faience tobacco jar c.1770French faience tobacco jar c.1770

1764 Louis XV tobacco jar – very ornate and high French

Sevres Tobacco Jar 1764

A little bit of possibly unknown information:

France’s Louis XIV and his physician, Fagon, adamantly opposed smoking! Louis XIV was very aware of his health and exercised regularly and ate very conscientiously.

So remembering that Louis XIV’s goal was to eat healthy, stay healthy and avoid anything in excess or that would change ones chemical makeup still holds true today — Any form of smoking (even with a filter) is not healthy for the body and has been proven to cause CANCER.  So enjoy the tobacco jar for it uniqueness & its beauty & remember……they make great cookie jars!

If you were a smoker and have stopped smoking, BE SURE to get your scan for the prevention of lung cancer.

SavedByTheScan.org

Reste en bonne santé

Au Revoir!  A La Prochaine!!

CONFIT POTS

THE FRENCH CONFIT POT

French Terracotta Confit Pot For Sale

CONFIT POTS come with and without lids and spouts

First, before I embark on the explanation of the confit pot (Pots de confit), let me first explain what “confit” is.  Confit is a classic French recipe where pieces of duck are slowly cooked in its own fat.  The confit “pots” was the storage vessel – hence the name confit “pot”.  These storage pots are a common sight in France and in antique shops such as our own French culinary shop, Aubergine Antiques.

After the cooking of the meat the containers were typically buried in the ground or put in stone lined larders with about four inches of the top sticking out – which explains why they are glazed about 3/4 of the way only down the pot.  It is a misconception that raw meat was put in these vessels with salt or olive oil and stored.  The meat would be cooked and then stored usually in its own duck fat and/or, but not always, with olive oil. Some were  covered with gauze or cloth while others had wooden lids.  The cool ground help preserve the meat until it was used.   It was refrigeration at the time!!

These earthen ware containers are quintessential French and were especially popular in the country French kitchen, but were more than likely utilized even in the kitchens at Versailles.  The kitchens at Versailles were unfortunately all but destroyed during the 19th century.  Below is a picture from what is left of a partial kitchen at Versailles – It looks almost modern.IMG_3681

The color of the glaze is indicative of the region and the most popular color for the pots was a rich mustard or honey color.French Confit Pots For Sale

If you see the confit pot that looks more like a pitcher (a cruche- one with a lid and spout) — those were used to hold olive oil or vinegars.French Terracotta Vinaigrier or Vinegar Pot For Sale

Today with modern day refrigeration we no longer bury meats in the ground and cellars.  We do still use the confit pots though as decoration and to bring warmth to a room.  The richness of the color and the history of these beautiful pots add charm any where they land.

We invite you to visit our French culinary shop, Aubergine Antiques, for a vast array of confit pots in the yellow ochre colors and on occassion the not as common green glazed confit pots and ones with spouts.  

All pictures are our own except for a few that were borrowed for educational purposes only from 1stdibs.com (search confit pot)- if you would like to see our confit pots, please come in to our shop or visit us on line (search decorative accessories) at www.aubergineantiques.com

251-928-0902

Au Revoir!  A La Prochaine!!