Sugar Coated Almonds

There is a very old tradition here in France to offer sugar-coated almonds — known as dragées — when a child is born. They are actually traditionally given out at baptism, but as there are not that many baptisms around anymore, I think it is a great tradition to carry on to celebrate the arrival of a new little person.

When I was born dragées only existed in pink and blue and white. My mother searched the whole of France for some green ones (she had a very May 68  approach to colour type casting of genders, which did not mix very well with something so traditional as dragéés). The tradition goes back as far as the 12th century when an apocathery figured out that almonds lasted longer if sealed in a coat of sugar. Almonds were reputed to combat sterility — hence the tradition of offering them to celebrate a baby.

Now you find them in all shapes and sizes and qualities. LaDurée makes some delicious ones, and you can equally get big bags for a few euros in the wedding shops on boulevard Magenta by metro Barbés Rochechouart, here in Paris. You can even now get M&M dragées, though I would not count these as something traditionally french… A dragée can be incredibly delicious or absolutely horrible, depending on the ones you get, so I highly recommend tasting them before buying.

- Emilie

P.S. I was just talking on the phone to my Italian Stepmother about these — apparently in Italy Dragées are called Confetti — and are used in exactly the same way!


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7 COMMENTS - Add your own

1. Lisan Van Bauwel | May 26, 2010 | Reply

In Belgium we have a similar tradition and we call them “suikerbonen” translated sugarbeans. The almonds are covered in chocolat and then sugarcoated. Mostly we leave the almonds out. :)

2. Marta | May 26, 2010 | Reply

How interesting! Here, we give them in baptisms, but also in weddings, I guess because they supposedly were good when trying to fall pregnant. I went to a wedding (two Italian friends) a few days ago, and they gave us exactly that, I guess the are many shared traditions in France, Italy and Spain :)

3. Courtney | May 26, 2010 | Reply

I love traditions like this!

4. Sarah | May 26, 2010 | Reply

The French are so classy…I love this tradition!

5. Esther | May 26, 2010 | Reply

In the Netherlands I’ve seen them for weddings. For births we have the traditional beschuit met muisjes!

6. Elisa | May 27, 2010 | Reply

In Greece we have them at weddings and Christenings too!
In fact the past 3-4 years they have become even more fashionable since you can now find Champagne+chocolate flavours(usually at weddings) and all sorts of fruit+chocolate flavours for kids. We call them bomboniera which i always thought came from France…. obviously not…..
x e

7. Nicola | May 27, 2010 | Reply

Almonds are also supposed to be really good for milk production!