Throughout France, church bells are silent during the days preceding Easter Sunday. The story goes that church bells would travel to Rome to visit the Pope and on their way back they would ring out joyfully to announce the resurrection of Christ, and they would drop off tiny chocolate eggs into gardens, thereby initating la chasse aux oeufs – the egg hunt!
As traditions go, this one is among the cutest, but the reality is that Easter is a very important day indeed… for chocolatiers!In fact Le Figaro reports that Easter accounts for about 10% of the annual chocolate consumption in France. That’s equivalent to a whopping 14.700 tons of delicious chocolate treats. Bunnies, hens, eggs and bells all feature prominently, of course, with a 30% share of dark chocolate–much more than in other countries. France is not the number one consumer per capita. Oh, no. While the French manage to put away 4.2 kilos per person per year, on average, a Brit more than leaves them in the dust with 11 kilos and counting (Switzerland and Ireland are not far back with 9.5 and 9.6 kilos respectively).
If you need an excuse to indulge, just think that you’ll be doing some good for the stagnant economy. The average household will spend 20 euros on the treat, but if you feel like really making a chocolatier happy, go for the six-kilos and seven-lambs special masterpiece from La Maison du Chocolat, at 850 euros (they do deliver internationally).
Easter Sunday in France is still very much a family holiday and, as with every other celebration, centers around the table. The traditional menu usually includes a roast leg of lamb, usually ordered in advance from your trusted butcher and of excellent quality, accompanied by a potato gratin. Here’s a simple but succulent recipe on how to get perfect results every time.