Can someone tell me how prunes came to be so loathed in the States? Is it their association with (ahem) digestion? The elderly?
I love prunes, and they enjoy a far better reputation in France. The best come from Agen, in the southwest. Unlike the little pellets that are sold under the public relations motivated moniker of “dried plums” in the US, Agen prunes are tender and moist, the plum flesh concentrated to sticky gold.
Prunes loom large in some of my favorite Paris treats. There is the pruneaux ice cream at Le Bac à Glaces, soft and smooth with the natural invert sugar that the prunes lend. There is a strong baba à l’Armagnac at La Cerisaie with a prune so plumped with booze that it almost resembles a fresh plum. (Proving once again that what grows together goes together, prunes and Armagnac are a fantastic combination.)
And then there is the verrine de glace aux pruneaux caramelisée (I think I got that right) at Le Comptoir, ice cream and drunken prunes topped with a layer of créme brulée. I don’t care if it is served in a trendy glass. It is delicious.
I wanted to order it the other day, as a matter of fact, but the friend with whom I had committed to sharing dessert said “I’m not really big on prunes,” at which point I just shook my head and sighed.
So tell me, because I really don’t understand, what’s not to like about prunes?