For those interested in creatures, we’ll start with snails…or for those who prefer the culinary vernacular or just have a queasy stomach, escargot. Submerge them in garlic herb butter, bake them, and you’ve got escargot de Bourgogne. I’ve even had some in edible shells. (Sometimes I surprise myself!)
Then there’s crème de cassis, the famous blackcurrant liqueur. Add this to white wine, and—voila!—you have a kir. Add it to Champagne, and you have a kir royale.
For those of you who love stinky cheese—and I know you’re out there—there’s Époisses. Call me a wimp, but it’s a bit too pungent for me. There’s also the spice bread called pains d’épices, hard candy Anis de Flavigny, and other local products.
Let’s not forget that Dijon is in France. That means you can find other wonderful breads, cheeses, and treats. Yes, I have been known to stroll down the rue with a baguette in hand. I will not comment as to whether or not I’ve ever wanted to brandish it like a sword.
Of course, there’s foie gras, which I’ve now had on toast, burgers, and surely other things. The French seem to love it with anything and everything. The range of cheeses is almost overwhelming. You can typically find fresh chèvre and aged Comté in my refrigerator.
There are both savory and sweet crêpes.
My favorite comes smothered in Nutella and bananas. Just. So. Good. My downfall is pain au chocolat or the French version of a chocolate croissant. Light. Flaky. Chocolatey. It’s everywhere, it’s inexpensive, and it’s delicious.
You can find all of these things and more in Les Halles, Dijon’s famous market. If the ironwork looks vaguely familiar, you’re not going crazy. Dijon native Gustave Eiffel designed the market himself. You’re probably familiar with some of his other work.
I should probably talk a little about mustard. It’s everywhere too. There was a decree from as early as 1390 related to its production in Dijon. Now the description of “Dijon” refers to a mustard style rather than the source. In fact, mustard seeds are grown and mustard is made throughout the world. However, if you see “Burgundy Mustard,” then it’s made with Burgundy seeds and wine.
Local producers are still world famous and make quite fancy mustards. Historic producer La Maison Maille was the official supplier to the court of Louis XV, the courts of Austria and Hungary, and the Empress Catherine II of Russia—all before 1800. You can find its store in downtown Dijon offering traditional styles or more creative blends, such as gingerbread, chestnut honey, and white wine; apricots, curry spices, and white wine; and pistachio, orange, and white wine. There are even mustards on tap. In Dijon, there’s a flavor combo for just about anyone…except people like me who abhor mustard.
Okay, so I am talking about mustard. You can’t say “Dijon” without thinking of mustard, but now I hope you think of other things too.