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Blancmange might first have come into Europe from the Arabs, through Sicily; no one knows for sure. Now it's the well-known, delicate sweet pudding made of almonds, milk and sugar, but back in Renaissance times it had chicken or even fish in it, and was popular as a restorative for the sick and expectant mothers; an interesting history and a 19th-century recipe are here.

In Aosta it's known as blanc manger. Some chefs cook rice in it; other recipes use it as a base for adding fresh fruit. in Sicily it's topped with pistachios and cinnamon.

Text © Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls

Images by: Fugzu