The Coucougnettes of Henry IV

As you might imagine, I’m not that up on my French history. I had a brief encounter with Versailles when I was 16 and I’ve seen the odd château or two over the years. And being a chef I did learn that good old Henry IV was the originator of the classic poule au pot or chicken in a pot – a hearty stew of bird, broth and garden veg that Henry proclaimed should be eaten by all his subjects each Sunday. It’s a dish that he grew up with in a remote south-west corner of France in the town of Pau.

It seems though, that the lowly poule wasn’t the only sort of bird that Henri liked to savour. Between his marriage to the Reine Margot, his 54 mistresses and the odd one night stand, Henry managed to sire 24 children. And so to honour his most proficient sex drive, a candy maker near Pau has come out with what they call France’s best sweet: les Coucougnettes du Vert Galant. Yup, you guessed right – life-size imitations of Henry IV’s balls! I have a hard time imagining a comparable honour being bestowed on more modern leaders, although Silvio Berlusconni might prove to be the exception.

So what do Henry IV’s balls taste like, you ask? Bof. If you’re a fan of marzipan you might find these chocolate covered almonds rolled in pink almond paste to your liking. I liked the story way more than the actual sweet. But who knows, perhaps they’re laced with Henry’s secret ingredient and well the rest I’ll leave to your imagination…


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