Toulouse's pink tiles and pink brick walls once earned it the nickname of the "rose city."
It is known for its singsong accent, its love of the arts and opera, its rich historical and architectural heritage, its canal, aeronautical industy, rugby and, of course, cassoulet.
But the violet-painted souvenir shops in Toulouse remind visitors that this is also the city of violets: this fragrant pretty little flower has been part of the city's culture since the Middle Ages. As early as the 14th century, the seven troubadours of the Gai Savoir company offered a golden violet for the most beautiful song presented at the Floral Games.
It was the Second Empire that saw a craze for violets that spread throughout Europe. The little bouquets were shipped to distant capitals to adorn the corsages of princesses and dressmakers. And it was then that the violet became a sought-after food! Its crystallized petals were served as a a candy to Belle Epoque gourmands, as well as a liqueur distilled from its flowers.
These days, cooks, pastry chefs and candy makers outdo each other in creativity as they come up with new dishes, cakes and cocktails using violets.
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