I recently learned a new word: bonbonnière.
This is the French word for an ornate container for sweets, and stems from another French word, bonbon, meaning “sweet”.
Further research revealed that bonbonnières come in many different shapes and forms – boxes, jars or bowls, usually with lids, and can be made from glass, paste, wood, crystal or porcelain. They may also contain not only sweets (chocolates, fudge, toffees, peppermints, etc.), but other fancies too, such as macaroons, sugared nuts, biscotti or other small biscuits, and marzipan or glacé fruits. They may be decorated with artificial jewels, such as pearls, or dried flowers, and ribbon or raffia.
I also discovered that the name has been used for several restaurants, cafés and sweet shops around the world, and even a night club in London!
I had heard of tulipières, on my travels to the Netherlands. These are special many- spouted vases for the display of tulips, either plain white or the typically “Delft” colours of blue and white.
The bonbonnières that I serendipitously discovered are beautiful egg-shaped containers for Easter fancies made by Royal Copenhagen, the Danish manufacturers and purveyors of fine porcelain dinnerware and ornaments.
I had been invited to a chocolate-tasting event at the Leonidas Belgian chocolate boutique, located in the basement of the small and exclusive shopping mall, Mood Stockholm, in the centre of the city: http://moodstockholm.se/en/butiker/leonidas/. They also have a small coffee shop there, serving delicious fresh coffee and cakes.
After a delightful evening of tasting their delectable wares, and making Easter purchases, I spotted next door the Royal Copenhagen flagship store in Sweden. There I learned from the manager about the charming concept of bonbonnières: http://moodstockholm.se/en/butiker/royal-copenhagen-stockholm/.
A variation on this theme is the Italian bomboniere – “favours” – given to guests on special occasions such as weddings and other religious ceremonies, or significant birthdays. These are usually sugar-coated almonds, placed in small satin or paper bags and tied with ribbon: white almonds for weddings, and blue or pink for the baptism of a baby boy or girl.
And then I discovered the Swedish word for bonbonnière: godisskål – literally candy or sweets bowl.
One learns something new every day!