Friday, December 3, 2021

Dining in Avignon, France. The Papeton d'Aubergine, the Châteauneuf-du-Pape Wine, and the Vaucluse Truffle.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman

Papeton d'Aubergine.
Aubergines/eggplants in the manner of the Pope's Hat.
Photograph courtesy of Cuisine Actuelle

Papeton d'Aubergine originated in Avignon and is served a pate, as an entrée (the French starter). Apart from eggplant, most French recipes include tomatoes, onions, and eggs flavored with garlic,  parsley, thyme, and bay leaves. (Avignon was home to seven popes from 1309 to 1379. The area around Avignon that the popes ruled was called Comtat Venaissin).


Papeton d'Aubergine
Photographcourtesy of Cuisine Actuelle.

Over the years, chefs have adjusted the Papeton recipe, with some claiming the original version used corn (USA maize) and not eggplant. I tend to doubt the use of corn as it arrived in Avignon about one hundred years after Columbus returned from the Americas, and by then, the popes had left the city! Despite the possible historical confusion when I have ordered Papeton d'Aubergines, all my memories of the dish have been good ones. Nevertheless, there are now more claimants for the authentic recipe than there were popes who ruled from Avignon.

Photograph courtesy of jean-louis Zimmermann

Where did the eggplant, the aubergine, come from?

The eggplant came from somewhere in Asia, with China being the first country known to have cultivated the plant. How and when the eggplant arrived in Europe is not very clear, and while the usual suspects, the Ancient Greeks, and Romans, who both have long histories tying them to France, have any recipes that include eggplants. Epicurious's online magazine (Condé Nast) focuses on food and cooking-related topics and suggests that the eggplant came to Europe from India sometime around the eighth century, possibly with seeds carried by Jewish merchants. (Epicurious's recipe includes cheese, an addition not usually seen in France).


Photograph courtesy of Håvar og Solveig

Where is Avignon

The city of Avignon is in the prefecture, the regional capital of the department of Vaucluse in the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. The region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur includes about half of France's Mediterranean coast from the Camargue to the Italian Mediterranean border. Avignon is just 40 km (25 miles) from the city of Arles, which borders the Camargue.  Nimes is 45 km (28 miles) from Avignon and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is 25 Km (15 miles) while Nice is 270 km ( 168 miles).

The tourist information office of Avignon has an English language website:   


Find Avignon on the map.
Photograph copyright Google.

You may wonder what the Popes of Rome were doing in Avignon.

Historically, a disagreement between King Philip IV of France and the papacy created the background for change, but it was the refusal of Pope Clement V in 1305 to move to Rome when he was elected pope that caused a breach in the church. Clement V ruled the Roman Catholic world from Avignon; then the capital of a Papal State called Comtat Venaissin, with its capital in Avignon, as did another six popes. However, it is impossible to be sure that the Avignon popes ever tasted any version of Papeton d'Aubergines. (Comtat Venaissin had become a papal territory in 1274 and only returned to France with the French Revolution).

The wine called Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2009
From the winerery named after Pierre Le Roy de Boiseaumarié
Photograph courtesy of Jameson Fink

While the popes were in Avignon, they enjoyed fine wines and influenced the growth of the vineyards around the summer palace they were building.  The results are the often outstanding red and white wines called Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The wine comes from grapes that grow near the village of  Châteauneuf-du-Pape, where the popes had built their summer palace, 12 km (7 miles) from Avignon. This specific appellation produces more wine than the whole of the Northern Rhone region. That's what you call a popular wine! Much of the investment in the local wine industry owes its growth to the popes of Avignon.

The village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape
and the remains of part of the castle's keep.
Photograph courtesy of Cycletours Holidays

Châteauneuf-du-Pape set the AOC/AOP standard.

In the early 20th century, Châteauneuf-du-Pape was a much-appreciated wine, but it was plagued by wine fraud, with bottles from anywhere being labeled Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The anger and concern of the tricked public and the real vintners saw the first wine regulations produced, especially for Châteauneuf-du-Pape in 1923. Those rules provided the prototype for the subsequent AOC rules and became law in 1933. In 1936 Châteauneuf-du-Pape became the first wine to receive an AOC.  A local vintner Pierre Le Roy de Boiseaumarié, (1890-1967) of Château Fortia, was the principal architect of these early regulations as well as the future AOC and AOP regulations. The rules that include a minimum alcohol level for wines and limits on yields as well as the types of grapes can be grown.

For Châteauneuf-du-Pape, both a red and a white wine are allowed. Still, unlike the case with other appellations, the permitted grape varieties are not differentiated into principal and accessory varieties. So. theoretically, it is possible to produce varietal Châteauneuf-du-Pape from any one of the eighteen grapes allowed. In reality, most red Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines are blends dominated by Grenache, though the taste from different producers can vary. When you have found a Châteauneuf-du-Pape that you like, stay with that vintner. Only one of every 16 bottles of Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a white wine. Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines have high alcohol levels, typically 13-15%, and they must naturally be at least 12.5%.

La Truffe du Mont Ventoux et du Comtat Venaissin
The black truffle found in the department of Vaucluse.

A truffle is a subterranean fungus.  Truffles are appreciated for the way they accentuate the flavor of other foods, The best way to enjoy truffles is when they are served raw and shaved over warm foods that are not highly flavored. Truffle oil, if it is genuine, is made with truffles steeped in oil, usually olive oil.


Black Truffle Pasta
Photograph courtesy Cooking with Kerry

The black truffles of Mont Ventoux and the Comtat Venaissin are the tuber melanosporum. The same truffle as the Perigord Truffle, the black diamond, France's most famous and most expensive truffle. If you are visiting the area in the winter, there are several truffle markets that you can visit. The earliest truffle market of the year is in the town of Carpentras is 26 km (16 miles) from Avignon (from mid-November to mid-March, early on Friday mornings).


Toasts au Truffes
Black truffles on toast.
Photograph courtesy of J’MC

Œufs Brouillés aux Truffe Noir:

Œufs Brouillés aux Truffe Noir are scrambled eggs, with the black truffles. A brouillade is a light version of scrambled eggs that originated in Provence. The egg whites are beaten separately and only then mixed with the yolks; that provides a light and delicate form of scrambled eggs. I have tried this three times, and only once could I taste and enjoy the change that truffles make; then, the truffles were grated in front of me. The other times, the dishes had no truffle taste, just a few black dots and a hint of garlic, and that was it. Make sure that when you order black truffle dishes, the truffles are grated in front of you!  NB: Truffles, like virgin olive oils, lose their taste when cooked.



The flag of the Confrerie of the Vaucluse truffle.
Photograph courtesy of vpagnouf

This Confrérie whos flag is shown above are a Brotherhood and Sisterhood, who work to protect and promote the good name of the truffle from Vaucluse and have the Comtat Venaissin insignia on their flag.

The black truffle - the Tuber Melanosporum, the Truffe du Mont Ventoux, the Truffe du Comtat Venaissin, and the Truffe du Périgord in the languages of France’s neighbors:

(Catalan -  tòfona negra), (Dutch - zwarte truffel ), (German -  Perigord-Trüffel, Schwarze Trüffel), (Italian -  tartufo nero), (Spanish -  trufa negra), ( Latin -  trufa negra).

The Aubergine or Eggplant in the languages of France’s neighbors:

(Catalan -   albergínia), (Dutch -   eggplant), (German - aubergine ), (Italian – melanzana), (Spanish - berenjena), (Latin -  solanum melongena).


Searching for the meaning of words, names or phrases
a French menu?

Just add the word, words, or phrase that you are searching for to the words "Behind the French Menu" (best when including the inverted commas), and search with Google.  Behind the French Menu’s links, include hundreds of words, names, and phrases that are seen on French menus. There are over 450 articles that include over 4,000 French dishes with English translations and explanations.


Bryan G. Newman

Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2016, 2021
For information on the unpublished book behind this blog write to Bryan Newman

Connected Posts:

AOP, IGP and Vin de France. What are These New Wine Labels?

Ail - Garlic. Garlic in French Cuisine.

Caviar in France. The Different Caviars on French Menus. Sturgeon, the fish, Esturgeon on French menus.

Confréries – The Brother and Sisterhoods that Promote and Defend the Foods and Wines of France.

Feuille de Laurier – The Bay Leaf, the Laurel Leaf and the Bay Leaf in French Cuisine.

La Truffe de Périgord, la Truffe Noire - The Perigord Truffle, the Black Truffle in French Cuisine.

Persil - Parsley. Parsley in French Cuisine.

Salade Mesclun – Salad Mesclun in French Cuisine

Searching for truffles in France, and truffles on French Menus. The Black Perigord Truffle and Truffles Oils and Truffles Essences.

The Camargue, France. The Land, its People, its Produce and its Cuisine.

Thyme in France. Thyme, Serpolet, Farigoule and Thym Citron, Lemon Thyme in France. Thyme. One of the most important herbs in French cuisine.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Lamproie – Lamprey. The Lamprey in French Cuisine.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman

A member of the lamprey family.
Photograph courtesy of AANA, Agence de l’Alimentation Nouvelle Aquitaine

Lamproie de Rivière Européene, the River Lamprey and the Lamproie Marine or Lamproie de Mer, the Sea Lamprey   -  The French name lamproie, like lamprey in English, covers all members of the lamprey family and there are quite a number of members.  However, in France, one of the two noted above will be on your menu. The lamprey is a strange and jawless animal, neither a true fish nor an eel. Lampreys are a unique and separate family of freshwater and seawater animals.

Lamproie au Citron et au Lard
Lamprey with lemon and bacon
Photograph and recipe courtesy of Marie Claire Cuisine et Vins

Lamproie à la Bordelaise – Lamprey prepared in the manner of Bordeaux; this is the most famous of all French lamprey recipes, and its origins go back to the middle ages. The lamprey is cooked with leeks, ham, onions, a red Bordeaux wine, and some of the lamprey’s own blood. Lampreys were and are considered a delicacy and depending on the area where this dish is served Cognac or Armagnac will be added for flavor. This is a recipe that takes lots of preparation, and as so it is quite an expensive dish.

Lamproie à la Bordelaise
The lamprey used in this dish is the Lamproie de Rivière Européene also called the Lamproie Fluviatile, Lamprillon or Flûte.
Photograph courtesy of AANA, Agence de l’Alimentation Nouvelle Aquitaine

Lamproie à la Nantaise  - Lamprey in the manner of the city of Nantes. River Lamprey with red wine, button mushrooms and prunes. Nantes is the prefecture, the capital, of the department of Loire-Atlantique and the region of the Pays de Loire. It is built on both banks of the River Loire and while it is a large city it is regularly voted the best city in France to live and work in.

Lamproie à la Nantaise
Photograph and recipe courtesy of Cuisine Actuelle.

Lamproie au Vin Blanc – This dish highlights lamprey and the Vouvray white wine made with Chenin Blanc grapes that grow along the banks of the Loire River. Also in the recipe will be Armagnac, Bayonne ham, Lardons, and a touch of the Piment d’Espelette pepper.

Lamproie au Vin Blanc
Lamprey with white wine
Photograph and recipe courtesy of Femme Actuelle

The European river lamprey is mostly caught when they reach 35 cm (14“)  long.  They are found along the Atlantic coasts of Europe, including the UK and Ireland, as well as the French and Italian Mediterranean coasts. The sea lamprey is larger, reaching 60cm (28“) or more. Sea Lampreys are caught when they return to the rivers to spawn.

The European River Lamprey
Photograph courtesy of the Guardian and Handout

Fête de la Lamproie
The Lamprey Fete in Saint-Terre.

There is an annual lamprey festival held in the village of  Sainte-Terre close to the Dordogne River. The Fete is held annually, usually on the third weekend in April and organized by the Confrérie de la Lamproie, Saint-Terre, the Brotherhood of the Lamprey in Sainte-Terre.   During the fete, there are cookery workshops, a flea market, funfair, and sports, with a dinner dance on the Saturday evening and Sunday noon.

Confrérie de la Lamproie, Saint-Terre,
Members of the Brotherhood of the Lamprey in Sainte-Terre.
Photograph courtesy of the Sudouest

Sainte-Terre is close to the city of Libourne the commercial hub of Bordeaux’s Right Bank wine region.  The Libournais wine region includes the appellations of Pomerol and Saint Émilion.

Lamprey traditions in the UK

According to an article in The Guardian, it was traditional for Gloucester to send a Christmas lamprey pie to the British monarch until 1836 when the practice was discontinued, except for coronations and jubilees. In 2012 a pie was sent to Queen Elizabeth II to mark her Diamond Jubilee but numbers of UK lampreys were so low that they had to be imported from the Great Lakes of North America. Now, it seems the river pollution in the UK has decreased and the river lamprey is returning in large numbers.

Eating too many lampreys can be bad for your digestion. King Henry I of England, (c. 1068 – 1135), the fourth son of William the Conqueror. Henry died in Normandy, according to legend, from a surfeit of lampreys. 

The lamprey in the languages of France’s neighbors:

The European River Lamprey -  Lamproie de Tivière Européene or Lamproie Fluviatile:

(Catalan - llampresa de riu), (Dutch - amproye),(German – lamprete, lamprida), (Italian - lampreda di fiume), (Spanish  - lamprea de río), (Latin - lampetra fluviatilis).

The Sea Lamprey or Great sea lamprey - La Lamproie Marine or Lamproie de mer:

(Catalan –llampresa de mar), (Dutch -Zeeprik), (German - grosse lamprete, seelamprete), (Italian - lampreda di mare), (Spanish   -   lamprea de mar), (Latiin - petromyzon marinus).


Searching for the meaning of words, names or phrases
a French menu?

Just add the word, words, or phrase that you are searching for to the words "Behind the French Menu" (best when including the inverted commas), and search with Google.  Behind the French Menu’s links, include hundreds of words, names, and phrases that are seen on French menus. There are over 450 articles that include over 4,000 French dishes with English translations and explanations. 


Bryan G. Newman

Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2016, 2021
For information on the unpublished book behind this blog write to Bryan Newman

Connected Posts:
Agen in South-west France. Home to the Agen Prune, the Gold Standard in Prunes.
Anguille, Anguille d'Europe – the European Freshwater Eel in French Cuisine.
Armagnac one of France’s two fabulous AOP grape brandies.
Bacon in France. Bacon and Salted Pork on French Menus. Lard in French Means Bacon in English.
Bordeaux and Bordelaise on the Menu, and Bordeaux AOC Wines on the Wine-List.
Champignons on French Menus. The Champignon de Paris, the Button Mushroom in French Cuisine. The Mushrooms of France I.
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Cognac the Town, and Visiting Cognac and Tasting the Product. Cognac IV.
Confréries – The Brother and Sisterhoods that Promote and Defend the Foods and Wines of France.
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Nantes, The City and its Cuisine. A Wonderful Place to Visit and a Wonderful Place to Dine.
Oignon or Ognon – An Onion. Onions on French menus. France’s most famous onions and their history.
Piment d’Espelette - The Pepper from Espelette in the Basque Country. Pimenete d'Esplette is Most Popular Chili Pepper in France.
Poireaux – Leeks. The Leek in French Cuisine.
Regions - On the 1st of January 2016 Many of France's Mainland Administrative Regions and Their Borders Changed. Keep This List With Your GPS and Map.