Buddha’s hand, Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis, or the fingered lemon, is an unusually shaped citron variety whose fruit is segmented into finger-like sections, resembling a human hand. In Japanese it is called bushukan (ブッシュカン).
The different cultivars and variations of this citron variety form a gradient from “open-hand” types with outward-splayed segments to “closed-hand” types, in which the fingers are kept together. There are also half-fingered fruits, in which the basal side is united and the apical side fingered. The origin of this kind of lemon is commonly traced back to the Far East, probably northeastern India or China, where most domesticated citrus fruits originate.
Buddha’s hand fruit is very fragrant and is used predominantly in China and Japan for perfuming rooms and personal items such as clothing.
The fruit may be given as a religious offering in Buddhist temples. According to tradition, Buddha prefers the “fingers” of the fruit to be in a position where they resemble a closed rather than open hand, as closed hands symbolize to Buddha the act of prayer. In China, the Buddha’s hand fruit is a symbol of happiness, longevity and good fortune. It is also a traditional temple offering and a New Year’s gift.
The fingered citron is cultivated as an ornamental tree in gardens and containers on patios and terraces.
Food and Medicine
Though esteemed chiefly for its “exquisite form and aroma”, the Buddha’s Hand fruit can also be eaten (often as a zest or flavouring) in desserts, savoury dishes and alcoholic beverages (such as vodka) or candied as a sweet. The sliced, dried peel of immature fruits is also prescribed as a tonic in traditional medicine.
The visual feast continues
We seem to be making it a habit of going to 20th anniversary events these days. Last week it was Le Marmiton’s 20th, this weekend, the 20th annual Maubec Hortifleurs – a traditional flower festival for the entire Luberon region.
Local nurseries primp and prime their plants to full flower in time for the show, the local mechanical agents showcase their products and, naturally, there is ample food, wine and beer. The Hortifleurs is the only event in Provence we have ever been to which has a beer tent!
In cases like these, the pictures tell a thousand words..
Le 5 arrives in Ménerbes
Glitzy Saint Tropez has the iconic Le Club 55 (Club Cinquant-Cinq), but now the Luberon can boast its own version – Le 5 in the Hilltop village of Ménerbes. No relation to the Riviera institution, Le 5 is taking over the panoramic terrace, which has various incarnations over the years.
The brainchild of La Veranda owners and their team, Hubert Tarbouriech and Aurelio Rocha, Le 5 will serve bistrot-style meals for lunch and throughout the afternoon. Pastries and cakes from the Le Veranda chefs will also complement the fare.
Le 5 has one of the most magnificent views in the Luberon and all the seating will be outside on the terrace. Upstairs, in the ‘old pub’ will be a selection of linens and fabrics for sale.
Le 5 will be opening on 1 April 2015 until the end of the season. Opening hours are 11h00-18h00, and will not affect the operating of big brother, Le Veranda, which has the enviable reputation as one of the Luberon’s finest restaurants. Opening days are Tuesday-Sunday, however, during the initial launch period the owners will be concentrating on weekend trade.
For early reservations and more information, call Le 5 on +33 (0) 188.8.131.52.84
If you see a violet in the wild, it is most likely to be the Common Dog-violet; this common and widespread plant lives happily in many different habitats including woodland, grassland, heaths, hedgerows and old pasture. It flowers from April to June but its flowers are not scented, unlike those of its cousin, the Sweet Violet. The latter was used in Ancient Greece as a perfume and Medieval Britain as a deodorant.
The purple flowers of the Common Dog-violet resemble those of pansies. It has heart-shaped leaves.
Madame got heavily involved in the French Food Week spirit by really ‘pushing the envelope’ with a magnificent Lamb Shank Pie – serving 14 people.
Here it is in all its glory –
It looks great, but tasted even better.
This week is French Food Week (isn’t it every week?), all over the world. To celebrate, here is another peep into our Le Mirande day in Avignon.
Since 1994, the famous La Mirande Hotel in Avignon has welcomed numerous international and multi-Michelin starred chefs to its cookery school Le Marmiton.
Throughout the year, cookery classes are held in the 19th Century kitchen and are a ‘hands on’ experience for the participants as they leanr the tips and skills from some of the best chefs around. Then, each year in March a showcase of the classes, courses and the Le Mirande facilities are held.
We took the short trip to Avignon on Sunday and what an experience!
Le Mirande is privately owned – and it shows. Immaculate service, furnishing in the Louis XIV and Louis XV period, which means heavy drapes, subdued lighting and well appointed pieces dotted around the vaulted ceilings.
The format is tasting plates and glasses of wine from local Rhone Valley vineyards. Think Chateauneuf-de-Pape, Gigondas etc. You buy books of tickets at 4€ each and a ticket buys you either a glass of wine or a plate from an extensive list cooked in front of you by the chef as you stroll through the diningrooms, cellars and kitchens.
You take your plate back to the living areas and silver service, white tablecloths and friendly waitrons complete the picture.
** The only possible explanation for burning a recipe can be gleaned from an American Chef – Todd Webber who says “burn your recipe books and cook with soul, feel and your own taste”.
France’s Minister of Culture, Fleur Pellerin, the chief guardian of the French language, told The Local on Wednesday that she saw no point in protecting French from outside influence like English – a sign that the famous blockade against English words has been lifted.
Are the French about to end their famous resistance to the invasion of English words into the language of Molière?
France’s Minister of Culture, Fleur Pellerin, who is a fluent English-speaker, suggested a dramatic change in attitude from the government towards the endless incursion of English words into French. Pellerin, who dubbed herself “the minister of the French language”, told The Local on Wednesday that France must realize “the world it is in” and that its language is “enriched by outside influences”.
“We need a dynamic approach towards the language. Of course I want to defend the French language but not to the point of preventing any influence from outside,” she said.
“We need to be able to understand the world we are in and that our language is enriched by external influences. French has always been a language that has been enriched by words from other languages,” she said. Pellerin was speaking on the same day she appeared at an event for the annual French Language and Francophonie Week, which starts this weekend.
“French is not in danger and my responsibility as minister is not to erect ineffective barriers against languages but to give all our citizens the means to make it live on,” she told the audience. In the past the “immortals” at the Académie Française, sometimes dubbed France’s language police, have often been ridiculed both in France and abroad for their fierce resistance towards English.
Their struggle has often been seen as in vain, given that the younger generation and businesspeople sprinkle their language with English words.
‘I am not a fanatic’
And the culture ministry’s attempts to ward off the encroachment of English by creating new French words has also been laughed off, notably its bid to replace “email” by the word “courriel” and more recently “hashtag” by the word “mot-dièse”. Korean-born Pellerin, who is also fluent in German, believes it is important to create “possibilities” in French but she also said she’s not a “fanatic” like the folks at the Académie Française.
“English has always fascinated me because it’s easy to create new words or join two words and make a new word,” Pellerin told The Local after a meeting of the Anglo-American Press Association in Paris, adding that her favourite word was “serendipity” which she says has officially been added to the French language.
“I want French to be a living language. Today we have around 250 million French speakers and in 30 years there will be around 700 million speakers of French, mainly in central and northern Africa.”
Nevertheless she points out that some English words creeping into French do cause a problem for French speakers, notably any words referring to the digital economy like “e-commerce”. The main problem being that the French pronounce “e” more like “ugh”. “A word like e-commerce has no sense in French from a linguistic point of view, it’s a pronunciation imported from abroad and a linguist told me it’s hard to explain it to young people, why it is pronounced differently to how is written,” said Pellerin.
French linguists cheered the shift in position, saying it did away with pedantry in favour of a more open approach.
Alain Rey, author of a dictionary on the history of French and a member of a Commission on French Terminology, said attempts to stop the adoption of some commonly used words were ridiculous.
He pointed out that the word “challenge”, for instance, in fact originally came from Old French (“chalonge”) before being taken up in English.
“Passing laws (against loan words) is to tilt at windmills,” Rey told AFP.
A language ‘needs to live’
A Haitian-Canadian writer, Dany Laferriere, said at the culture minister’s launch event that “a language needs to live first of all, otherwise it’s all just ideology”. Another linguist and author on the French language, Henriette Walter, said that “it is annoying” when foreign words are used to substitute perfectly good and common French words. “But when one needs a new word for a new object, say a plant that comes from another country, one is rather pleased to have a word to refer to it,” she said.
The French and Francophonie Week celebrating the French language, spoken by 274 million people in different countries around the world, begins on Saturday.
Article from The Local (www.thelocal.fr)