A Brief History of Confit

By Wednesday, February 10, 2016 Permalink 0

by Jonell Galloway

A Brief History of Confit and Food Preservation in France

Une ingénuité confite de vieille fille. / The preserved naivity of a spinster.–Colette, La Naissance du Jour / Break of Day

I like my man to be a bit confit. Confit is my favorite French word. It can mean many things, but the meaning always implies intensity to the point of being almost sweet, and sometimes sickly sweet.

The word comes from the Latin, conficiere, meaning “to do” or “to make,” and is the root of other familiar words like confiture and confection,” says Kate McDonough. “It can equally describe flavoring and preserving foods in other substances, as fruit in sugar, olives in oil, pickles in vinegar, or capers in salt.”

Confit de canard - duck confit from Gascony, France

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the food world, there are two main meanings, although the term basically means “preserved;” there are, of course, many ways of preserving food. The first refers to something candied or crystallized, such as the fruits confits so popular in France, especially at Christmas and during other holiday periods. The second refers to a savory food either cooked in its own juices or preserved.

The French confit we know best is canard confit, or duck confit, which is traditionally cooked in a copper pot over a fire for up to 24 hours so that its fat oozes out and envelops it. It is then stored in its own fat and conserved in a jar for up to a year.

Pickles and salted capers also count as confits. Another common one is tomates confites, or confit tomatoes, which are slow-cooked like duck in a low-temperature oven until they become almost sweet like candy. Intense, yes.

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On the Chocolate Trail: The Elizabeth Taylor Special, the Chocolatini

By Tuesday, February 14, 2012 Permalink 0

by Christina Daub

Who invented the chocolatini?

With all we remember about chocolatini, her legendary eyes and films and husbands and tireless efforts on the behalf of AIDS victims, the Hollywood queen was also, by the way, an icon of the chocolate world.

In 1953, her face sold Whitman’s chocolates ads for Valentine’s that year. In 1955, she and Rock Hudson invented the Senator John Warner, a concoction of vodka, Kahlua and Hershey’s syrup after working long hours on the set of Giant in Marfa, TX. Taylor proclaimed it “the best drink I ever tasted.”

But my favorite Taylor contribution to the chocolate world was one you could order just five blocks from the White House. During her marriage to National Velvet, she frequented the show restaurant in Washington DC, Dominique’s. It may not have had the best food in town, but its patrons attracted attention like no one else and people went to see and be seen. Autographed photographs of Ted Kennedy and Tony Bennett, Robert Redford and others glammed the walls while exotic mounted animals, an alligator, a lion and several other large creatures loomed near diners craning their necks between bites.

I don’t remember what I ate for dinner at Dominique’s since already in those days, my sole focus was on dessert. And the Elizabeth Taylor Special was as extravagant as she was. I ordered it every time.

It looked heavenly, a large cloud of whipped cream, but inside this cumulus pouf hovering on the signature Dominique plate, were the real jewels: five chocolate truffles, brown diamonds every one.

Dominique’s no longer exists having been sold by its original owner in 1987, but that dessert will float on in my memory more than Cleopatra, poet or any other work Liz Taylor graced with her fierce talent and jaw-dropping beauty.

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On The Chocolate Trail: Christina Daub is an American The Poet’s Cookbook who has spent her life traveling around the world in search of great chocolate. She is also the editor of the Food Poetry section. Published in The Poet’s Cookbook series, she has work in the first volume, which included poems and recipes from Tuscany (in English and Italian), and the second (in German and English), published by the Goethe Institute. She teaches creative writing at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

 

 

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