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boiled sweet or hard candy

French Candy "Berlingots", from Nantes, a city in western France

Berlingots are what Brits call a ‘humbug’—a hard candy in pyramidal form, usually flavoured with mint.

Similar sweets were made as medicine, apparently as far back as the early Middle Ages, but it was a certain Mme Couet of Carpentras who in the 18th century is said to have perfected the recipe for berlingots (the curious name is derived from berlingau, the Occitan word for knucklebones, as in the ancient dice-like game of divination, played by the ancient Greeks and Romans).

Assortiment de Berlingots de Carpentras, confiserie à base de sirop de fruits confits

A plaque on rue de la Porte d'Orange in Carpentras honours François Pascal Long, the pâtissier-confiseur who in 1844 invented the Berlingot de Carpentras, flavoured with fruit syrup; another local, Gustave Esseyric, is said to have revived Mme Couet’s recipe using the local peppermint and sugar leftover from the making of fruits confits.

Of course Caen, Nantes, Falaise and Saint-Quentin say their famous berlingots are better, but as far as I know Carpentras has the only historic plaque in their honour.

Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

Sweet stuff

Text © Dana Facaros

Images by Stéfan Le Dû from Nantes, France, Véronique PAGNIER