Most people don’t know an important thing about the calisson… it’s made from melons! The star fruit of the region, the melon is in fact one of the ingredients of the little boat-shaped candy from Aix-en-Provence, though its perfume may be overwhelmed by the dominant almond flour at the heart of this unique confectionary. Unique because not too sweet: the paste of almond and candied melon is covered with a neutral egg-based icing and rests on a thin layer of flat bread, a fine patterned wafer made of flour and water, the two ingredients of the Host taken in the Eucharist… This detail brings the ambiguity of the calisson to light: the first sensations in the mouth makes you think of the Host, before other flavors invade your palate. Still, this first sacred effect can be surprising for the uninitiated. And to top it all off, each year in September, the little yellow specialty from Aix-en-Provence is blessed in the local church at Saint-Jean de Malte… So is the calisson a Catholic candy?
Not really… It’s a mysterious local specialty, probably with Italian origins, whose almond shape undeniably seduces candy lovers and the curious. With its tapering geometric form, a graphic effect emphasized by the depth of the central color, the calisson is almost a work of art, a mini-sculpture to savor with a coffee in the heart of the Rhone Valley. Its shape permits endless graphic games; serving plates become a flower or rosette, and encourage all sorts of experiments and variations. Is it impossible to have fun with this ancestral recipe?
Not at all! The traditional calisson might reign over the souvenir shops, but elsewhere it’s happily revised in other flavors, while respecting the original know-how. Dried and candied fruits like figs, persimmons, apricots, dates or prunes offer spectacular alternatives if you pass by Roy René’s mythic store, which even goes as far as producing a savory version of the delicacy… Heresy ?
La Confiserie du Roy René
330, rue Guillaumedu Vair
13545 AIX EN PROVENCE