May I present the Navette? A goodly gentle biscuit from France. The ones shown here came from Nice via some Californian friends and are a version of the classic fleur d’oranger recipe. The notes on the packet describe it as a type of shortbread, but if it is it doesn’t taste as dense or buttery as the Scottish kind. I particularly loved its softness and subtle orange notes. To me, this is the biscuit equivalent of a Lady Grey tea.

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Ship-shaped and Marseille fashion?

Navettes are traditionally associated with Candlemas, the feast in honour of Christ’s presentation in the temple. I’m not sure what that has to do with candles exactly but the vaster the church it’s celebrated in, the more amazing it looks converted into a sea of lights. These biscuits are also eaten to commemorate the legend of the three Marys‘ journey to Provence (or, in some versions of the story, Mary, Martha and Lazarus). As their name suggests, they are designed to look like ships, although the ones I’m eating now look more like flatboats…

Scenes from The Life of St Cuthbert, Durham.

That great clerk Plato likened the state to a ship in Book 6 of Republic, where Socrates argues that true captains keep their eyes on the stars instead of squabbling for control of the wheel. It’s a metaphor that has come up rather frequently in the post-Brexit debate, and whatever you think of its dramatic change of course, there’s no doubt that Britain’s little ship of state is in bad repair right now. Some of the cracks had been there for a long time, of course, and it simply took a storm to expose them, but for many there’s real grief in the consciousness of so many newly-fractured relationships within and beyond our borders. Let those who watch and pray pray for leaders who will put aside their differences and steer us according to the best possible lights. And let’s be kind to one another, even those we may think deserve it least. We’re going to need a lot more tea and biscuits before we’re done…

Further delectation

Celebrate the Feast of St Benedict by making your own Navettes and following this rather lovely blog by one of his modern disciples.

Looking to get in touch with your Burgundian roots? You might be eligible for a Passport to Pimlico, the Ealing Comedy that’s suddenly become a lot more topical.

Via Damien Kempf, in homage to the news of late, one flying pig:


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