France is widely regarded as being the culinary capital of the world, as it is home to some of the most diverse, rich, and incredibly delicious forms of cuisine that the world has ever seen. What’s more, many of the world’s greatest chefs either hail from France, or have spent many years honing their craft there. When we think of French food, one reason why people tend to get so excited and passionate, is because France has so much to offer. There are delicious savory dishes, amazing seafood, pastries, and of course, the foods which we’ll be focusing on today: candies and sweet confectionaries. You’re probably familiar with regular mints, like the types you see in pretty much every store imaginable, but have you ever experienced a true, authentic, French mint? If the answer is no, you are missing out on a real treat. Two of the most popular forms of French mints are the much-loved Les Anis de Flavigny, and the delicious and diverse Vichy Pastilles. For all of you mint-lovers out there, here is a delicious guide to French mints.
Native to the village of Flavigny, Burgundy, Les Anis de Flavigny mints are considered by many to be a national treasure, and if you’ve ever tasted one for yourself, you will instantly understand why. These delicious treats however, actually started out as a form of medication. The pastilles started out as herbs or seeds, which were prescribed in order to help treat and soothe a number of medical conditions and ailments, including fever, digestive issues, and even impotence. The most popular variant, and the one that got things moving, was the anise seed. Here, an anise seed would be coated in a warm sugar syrup and tossed in a pan over and over, until several layers of sugar syrup had built up. Skilled pharmacists would make these pastilles, that looked more like precious stones than sweets, and used them for medical purposes. People who consumed these pastilles however, fell in love with their delicious taste, and eventually different flavorings were used.
Different flavors – As mentioned, the most common form of Les Anis de Flavigny, is indeed the pastille made from the seed of the Pimpinella Anisum. However, nowadays, many other delicious natural flavors are used, including:
Only natural extracts and flavors are used, obtained by processes such as steam or alcohol distillation. If you are looking for a taste test, Les Anis de Flavigny also has assorted flavor boxes!
Vichy Pastilles are another example of a hugely popular French confectionary, with a rich and storied history. These pastilles are produced primarily in the town of Vichy, and they are incredibly recognizable due to their octagonal shape and their brilliant white color. They also have the word ‘VICHY’ imprinted onto their exterior, making them unmistakable. These mints are made with a combination of mineral salts, along with glucose syrup, Vichy water, sugar, and natural flavorings including mint. Again, just like the Les Anis de Flavigny mints, these too, were initially created for medical purposes. Back in the 19th century, they were made up of Bicarbonate of Soda, and were consumed in order to help treat various digestive issues such as indigestion or heartburn. Vichy was renowned for its pure, life-giving water, and so Vichy pastilles were eventually made with minerals obtained from the waters of Vichy.
These confectionary delights are made with natural flavorings. Although mint is the signature flavor, aniseed, orange, and lemon extract flavors are also very popular. Vichy Pastilles are known for their delightful flavor and for giving you wonderfully fresh breath!