Marron, the French word for the ‘sweet chestnut’, has crossed the Channel twice. It was first acquired in the sixteenth century (Robert Ashley in his translation of Loys le Roy 1594 mentioned ‘dates, chestnuts, and marrons’) and by the seventeenth century it was being spelled maroon (‘roasted maroons, pistachio, pine-kernels,’ John Evelyn, Acetaria, 1699). It survives, of course, as a colour term, originally applied in French to the colour of the chestnut's internal shell. The word made a second appearance in the 1870s in the expression marrons glacés, literally ‘iced chestnuts’, which are peeled sweet chestnuts that are poached in syrup and then coated with sugar. A main centre of their production is Privas, in the Ardèche in France. The French word marron itself came via Italian marrone from medieval Greek máraon.
Subjects: Cookery, Food, and Drink.