Thirteen desserts

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The thirteen desserts (Occitan: lei tretze dessèrts) are the traditional dessert foods used in celebrating Christmas in the French region of Provence. The "big supper" (le gros souper) ends with a ritual 13 desserts, representing Jesus Christ and the 12 apostles. The desserts always number thirteen but the exact items vary by local or familial tradition.[1] The food traditionally is set out Christmas Eve and remains on the table three days until December 27.[2]

Dried fruit and nuts[edit]

Four beggars

The first four of these are known as the "four beggars" (les quatre mendiants), representing the four mendicant monastic orders: Dominicans, Franciscans, Augustinian and Carmelites.[3]

  • Raisins (Dominicans)
  • Walnuts or hazelnuts[4] (Augustines)
  • Dried figs (Franciscans)
  • Almonds (Carmelites)
  • Dates, representing the foods of the region where Christ lived and died[5]
  • Dried plums from Brignoles

Fresh fruit[edit]

Sweets[edit]

  • Two kinds of nougat, symbolizing good and evil[1]
    • Black nougat with honey (Nougat noir au miel), a hard candy made with honey and almonds
    • White nougat (Nougat blanc), a soft candy made with sugar, eggs, pistachios, honey, and almonds

French Wedding Foodways[edit]

Bayle St. John, writing in The Purple Tints of Paris (vol. 2) "The dishes are substantial; soup, boiled beef, veal, salad, cheese, apples, and what are called, for some mysterious reason, the four beggars — nuts, figs, almonds, and raisins, mixed together."

References[edit]

External links[edit]

The 13 desserts of Provence - by Notreprovence.fr (in English)