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No. 118-119: Spéculoos and le Musée du quai Branly Combined

Out and about this morning and in search of a birthday gift for Charlotte, my favorite soon to be 4-year-old, I decided to pop into la librairie du Musée du quai Branly and take a peek at their unique collection of gifts. Much to my delight, I came across this in the children’s book section:

Spéculoos! La quête/Spéculoos! the Quest

Spéculoos! La quête/Spéculoos! the Quest

When I first spied it, I thought surely, there must be another meaning for the word Spéculoos that I don’t know. Mais non!


This is actually a tale of an extraordinarily happy, rotund and spoiled princess from a magical far eastern land who is saved by Spéculoos!

The princess leads a grandiose life. When she wakes up, she nibbles cake and pralines. For dinner she gobbles pralines and cake, and for dessert, she savors ice cream with pralines. Mais un jour, la Princesse n’eut plus faim/but one day, the princess was no longer hungry. Well, this certainly makes her very sad and she cries for a very long time. Not one single soul in the entire kingdom can find a cure for her sickness.

But then one day Maurice, le ménestrel de la Cour, who, naturally, is profoundly in love with princess, has an idea. He will go to the sorcière, and ask if he has any ancient potions to cure his secret love. And this is what the sorcerer tells him:

J’ai ce qu’il te faut, une très vieille recette de biscuit, mais qui agit mieux qu’une potion/I have what you need, a very old cookie recipe, that is better than any potion. 

…and the cookie that’s better than a magic potion? Spéculoos, obviously.


So he travels dans des contrées lointaines pour ramener le gingembre, le clou de girofle, la cannelle, la cardamone et la muscade/to distant lands to find the ginger, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg. Upon hearing about his plan and envisioning the recipe, the princess falls instantly and madly in love with her hero.

From Nigeria to Zanzibar, to India and the red Orient, and onward to Sri Lanka and the Indonesian archipelago, love struck Maurice diligently gathers the indispensible spices.

Upon his return he bakes her the cookies (as can Charlotte, by following along with the simple recipe)…

…et en goûtant le Spéculoos, la Princesse avait retrouvé toute sa gaieté. Mais plus que le biscuit, c’était le courage de Maurice qui l’avait conquise/and upon tasting the Speculoos, the princess’ cheerfulness was restored. But more than the cookies, it was the courage of Maurice that conquered her malady and won her heart.



I have to say, I’ve had some days where Speculoos is as good as, if not better, than any other magic potion to chase away the blues. I’m glad the Musée Branly thinks so too!


But if you don’t like Spéculoos, the Quai Branly Museum has plenty of other nifty and colorful gifts for you to choose from.


la librairie du Musée du quai Branly: the bookshop at the Branly Museum

le ménestrel de la Cour: the court minstrel

Mais non! But, no!

sorcière: sorcerer

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Leave it to the French to wax poetic about something yummy! 🙂

    January 23, 2014
    • Yes, Spéculoos as the cure-all…When I saw the book at the Branly I thought I was finally going to find out the roots of the word itself…some indigenous spice growing tribe or something, mais non, just a sweet way to introduce French children to Spéculoos, Southeast Asia and Africa.Some of the illustrations are lovely.

      January 23, 2014

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