The oldest written record of cherry growing in Roussillon dates to 1394 when a community at Saint Jacques in Perpignan were permitted to emblazon a cherry tree on their crest. The region is famous for its fruit and the medieval town of Céret, nestling under the Pyrénées, is renowned for having the earliest harvest. The first of the season's pick are, by local tradition, sent to France's President.
Céret is also known as the birthplace of Cubism and the town was the popular retreat of artists - Chagall, Dali, Matisse and Picasso all lived here and their works hang in the Modern Art Museum. There are also works by Juan Gris, Maillol, and Dufy. The Café Pablo in the town is dedicated to Picasso and The Grand Café, still operating today, was a meeting place for many famous artists in the early part of the 20th century.
Céret holds a cherry festival each year to celebrate the harvest with such oddities as cherry beer and cherry burgers - and a cherry stone spitting competition! This year it is planned for the weekend of the 29th - 30th May 2010.
I must admit to be fascinated by the idea of cherry burgers – I know that cherries often pair well with game dishes but the idea of turning them into burgers is a new one to me!