If you end up lost in Saint-Calais, located South West of Paris, you might be lucky to attend "Le festival du Chausson aux Pommes"
Pommes means apples and chausson means slippers: think cozy as we put the apples in the dough like putting on a sock! It is a fine puff pastry garnished with apples sautéed in butter.
Saint-Calais claims to make the best ones, here is why.
Let's dive into Saint-Calais in 1580. A plague epidemic overtook the city. People were scared as they were facing death with little hope for life. Food was hard to find and everyone was locked inside for weeks. In the abbey, the monks had locked themselves in too, praying for the end of the tragedy. They even promised to celebrate a Mass every year if the Lord would put an end to it.
The plague ended up decimated two-thirds of the population. But their prayers seemed to work, as one day, the epidemic miraculously ended.
As promised, the following year, the monks hosted a Mass in honor of the miracle. For the occasion, the chatelaine, Madame de Vendôme made a huge early version of the apple turnover that was distributed to the population.
Since then the pastry has become a symbolic product of Saint-Calais. Every first Sunday of September bakeries would sell apple turnovers to commemorate the end of the epidemic and celebrate the first distribution made by the chatelaine.
Every era has its epidemics, hopes and celebrations. One day, we too will be celebrating the end of the 21st-century pandemic. Until then, enjoy as much as you can the fine dough full of applesauce baked to perfection we call le chausson aux pommes.