Food in Gent – Cuberdons

A cuberdon is a cone-shaped Belgian candy, made with gum arabic, usually raspberry-flavored and purple, with a soft gelatinuos raspberry centre. It is known as Gentse neus (Gent nose), or neuzeke (little nose) for it is like a human nose. In French, cuberdons are also called chapeau-de-curé and chapeau-de-prêtre (priest’s hat).
Cuberdons traditionally about 2,5 cm wide and weigh approximately 10 to 18 grammes, although smaller version are also commercialized. Cuberdons can only be preserved for about three weeks, after which period the inside begins to crystallize. This limited preservability is the reason why cuberdons are not exported outside of Belgium.
Cuberdon’s precise origins, as with its exact recipe, remain best-kept secrets. There are some legends concerning the origin of the cuberdon. One legend claims that the candy was first made in the 19th by the clergy in Flanders near Bruges. It is from here, so the story goes, that the candy gained its ‘priest’s bonnet’ nickname.

cuber
Credit photo: cuberdonsleopold.com
According to Flemish tradition, the recipe of the cuberdon was discovered by chance by the Ghent pharmacist De Vynck in 1873. In order to increase the shelf life of drugs at the time, many were packaged in the form of syrup. When the pharmacist examined a failed preparation after a few days, he found that it had formed a crust, while the core was still liquid. From this discovery came the idea to use such a technique to manufacture candy.
One essential ingredient is gum arabic, collected mainly in Saharan Africa, from the sap of acacias trees. The shortage of gum arabic during the Second World War nearly consigned the cuberdon to history  but, as of 1946, confectioners who remembered the recipe began production once more.
There are some new derivative food products including cuberdon-flavored jenever, ice cream, dessert sauce, and cookies.
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