Jul 22, 2016

Royal Boobs and Balls: Jolirond


I present you the Coucougnette, which means "Balls" -- yes, in just the raunchy way your mind has immediately imagined. They are named after the balls of 16th century King Henri IV de France -- also known as Good King Henry. I don't know how good King Henry was, but I do know how good King Henry's balls are. Here they are mixed in with Queen Margot's Tits, making this perhaps the sexiest French candy photo ever.

I've written before about Le Bonbon au Palais (which I consider one of the very most beautiful, delicious, interesting candy stores in the world) both here on A Year in Fromage and in the Wall Street Journal.

[And speaking of articles by yours truly, here's a link to a new one: an essay on cheese and about the experience of researching this blog (it's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it) that was just published yesterday in Wine Enthusiast.]

In the store it says, "Life is more beautiful with candies. For you, I've gathered the best artisanal confections from France." The choices really are incredible, varied, and ever-changing. I once took a 9 year old visitor there and told her she could pick out any three candies she wanted. As soon as she walked in and saw the store, she burst out crying, because she had no idea how she would begin to narrow down the choices. Yup, that's how I feel sometimes, too.

My kids sometimes get annoyed when I ask them to model for yet another photograph, or for help researching my stories: You can just imagine the whining, "Oh Mom, not again!" But, believe me when I say that there is absolutely no whining when I ask for their help with any story relating to Le Bonbon au Palais. They are more than happy to cooperate. In fact, they're just like (just like) kids in a candy store.


But though I've written about Le Bonbon au Palais as a whole, today I really want to focus on this special pair of candies from the Pyrénées-Atlantiques -- not the heart of the candy store, but rather the balls and boobs. 

First of all, if you're a language lover, you'll notice that the balls -- "la Coucougnette" -- are feminine ("la"), while the tits -- "le Téton" -- are masculine ("le"). Ah, how I love the French language. (In the word "coucougnette", I feel like I can see the similarities to the Spanish word "cojones". Coincidence? Or Etymology?)

While we can't honestly claim these balls belong to King Henri IV, we can at least say they are a testament to his testicles. He was known to enjoy all -- and we do mean all -- the privileges of being a 16th century king, so you'll notice that the balls are most decidedly not blue. His nickname in French is "Le Vert Gallant", which means "The Green Gallant" and is a reference to his extreme philandering.

The name and invention of this candy are directly attributed to the court of King Henry IV, who was known to have a sweet tooth as well as a lot of mistresses, and a couple of misters, too. This (or its ancestor) was then, literally, a bonbon au palais (candy at the palace), and so couldn't be more appropriate to sell at Le Bonbon au Palais. 

In the center, a grilled, caramelized almond is surrounded by dark chocolate. Then the chocolate nut is covered in an almond paste scented with ginger, armagnac, and raspberry juice to get its deep pink hue. Then the entire thing is rolled in sugar. Really, what's not to love?

Le Téton de la Reine Margot, "Queen Margot's Tits" or "Queen Margot's Boobs" (take your pick of translation) are my favorite of the two, which says nothing about my sexual preferences but rather something about my preference for the taste of these nutty itty bitty titties.

Created in 1990, these are artisanal candies made by -- officially -- one of the best candymakers in France. They are milk chocolate and praline almond truffle-like candies, with a little cookie crunch mixed in, a hint of orange, and covered in white chocolate.

The way legend and candy store owner George relate the story, Queen Margot was something of a nymphomaniac, or at the very least an early feminist believing in sexual equality. She in turn was known to have her own infidelities. But more scandalous still, she supposedly dressed up as a peasant (think busty, lusty wench) in order to be able to head to taverns and pick up men, and was reputed to have slept with many. While this may not be exactly true, it is undisputed that she did have many lovers from the noble class during her marriage to the king.

Also undisputed is that she was considered a great beauty, and that she liked to wear her décolletage very, very deep, to show off some natural assets. It's even sometimes said that her breasts were so beautiful, they were used as the model for some forms of wine glasses, though most likely this comes from the same myth that the champagne coupe was modeled on Marie-Antoinette's breast (and frankly, it appears neither of these stories are historically accurate, but they sure are fun cocktail party banter).

Besides being known for their 16th century open, swinging marriage. and for serving as the inspiration for a pair of delicious candies, King Henry IV and Queen Margot are also infamous for instigating the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre, on August 24, 1572, during which time several thousand Huguenots (French Protestants) were killed in Paris and immediately after which Good King Henry converted to being Catholic, from being a Huguenot. For obvious reasons.

What I love about George is that he can tell you great stories about all of candies he sells at Le Bonbon au Palais, each of them a regional specialty and lovingly made. But almost certainly none of the candies have a sexier and more colorful back story than these two little treats -- tits and testies, boobs and balls for all.

THE CHEESE: Jolirond

Jolirond is a striking, unusual raw cows' milk cheese made in the very northern tip of France, in the Valle dy la Lys. There's no other way to say this: It's orange. I mean really, really orange.

It's a farmhouse cheese, made by the Ferme du Vinage, in the village of Roncq with milk made from Prim'Holstein cows. All of this information is easy for me to find out, because this is one of the fabulous delivery cheeses I receive in my magically delicious package from La Boite du Fromager, and it comes with all sorts of information. The information tells me that the taste has hints of "slightly sweet hazelnuts" and I guess I can believe that. It's certainly milder and sweeter than you'd guess just by looking at the color, which makes it look like it will taste like dirty socks worn for a week of camping. But no, the crust has some footy funk to it, while the inside actually does have a sweet-sour tinge to it.

On the whole, it may not be my favorite tasting cheese ever, but it's certainly one of the most striking on the plate. The colors is outrageous, really not to be believed, and everybody wants to take a slice to see what bright orange tastes like.


Jolirond is a made-up word meaning, roughly, "pretty-round." One could easily argue that Queen Margot's breasts were very pretty-rounds. Heck, for all I know, Good King Henry's balls were pretty-rounds, too. In any event, the candies modeled after them certain are pretty and round and, like the cheese, the balls are extremely colorful. Together, it's a rainbow of sexy cheeses and sexy candies modeled after sexy parts with some very sexy history.


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