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Southern France
Lynn Deasy is a freelance writer, author, foodie, and garden tinkerer. She lives in a 600 year old house in southern France with her husband, Christophe. Currently, she is looking for a literary agent for her memoir CA VA? STORIES FROM RURAL LIFE IN SOUTHERN FRANCE which examines the oddities of French provincial living from an outsider’s point of view through a series of adventures that provide more than a fair share of frustration, education, admiration, and blisters…. yes, lots and lots of blisters. Lynn blogs every Monday, Wednesday, and sometimes Friday.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The 13 Desserts

We Americans might have our Christmas cookies, but Southern France has 13 desserts at the Christmas table.  The first time I heard this, I thought it was ironic since the French criticize Americans for being excessive.  My family might have had numerous desserts at Christmas, but never that many.  Then, I discovered the 13 desserts to be quite different from the sugary sweet desserts that I knew from my childhood; gone are the peanut butter balls and snickerdoodles, and in its place I have a platter filled with Mediterranean specialties, such as dried fruits and nuts, nougats, and a rustic bread made from olive oil called la pompe a huile.  The desserts consist of a vast array of complex flavors and textures revolving around earthly blends and local products, such as honey and lavender.   The colors are natural and the forms are organic, placing an emphasis on the untransformed state of the products. 
Historically, the 13 desserts represent Jesus and the 12 apostles and there needs to be the 4 Mendiants.  Those are dried figs, almonds, walnuts, and dried grapes which represent different religious orders: the Dominicans, Franciscans, the Carmelites, and Augustans.  The 13 desserts show how the area is in touch with its culinary and religious roots and how that still effects what is served at a holiday meal.
Having the 13 dessert at the Christmas table was quite a change for me, particularly since I consider chocolate to be the only reasonable dessert; however, I’ve grown to like this change and enjoy playing with the variety of flavors the platter offers.  I see the 13 desserts as a time to reflect on the holiday and see how many things the French eat and do are symbolic.  I particularly like that aspect of it; the holidays are a reflective and joyous time, and the 13 Desserts are subtle reminder of that.


  1. Oh Lynn I love how the balance of earth and sweet has been struck at last! Though Chocolate is the only REAL dessert - this would be a welcomed change to the typical American Christmas Holiday treats. :) Happy holidays! ~Megan

  2. Chocalate as the real dessert - yes, I cannot agree more. I think that is why the rest of France has the buche de Noel - a rolled chocolate cake made to look like a log! But hey, you know abut lumberjacking, right? ;)