French Tuna

Every time I’m at G. Detou buying chocolate or whatever, I look at the tins of tuna lined up near the window. I’ve never picked any of them up, but I like looking at the pretty designs and graphic, stylized lettering. When I was there last week, I thought, “Why not try them out?” So I bought these two.


Since then, they’ve been sitting on my coffee table where I look at them and pick them up from time to time to admire the packaging and the smooth, cool rounded metal tins. Then I put them back down. One is flavored with coconut, lime and red chili pepper and the other has prunes and spices. Prunes? With tuna?

While I like prunes a lot…and what’s not to like about tuna?… the idea of them intersecting, mixed up in a can, sounds less-than-appealing. Maybe they’re delicious and I’ve been missing out on a great flavor combination all my life. Who knows? And the one with coconut (which also has raisins listed in the ingredients), also raised my eyebrows. But the tin sure is pretty and has been brightening my day ever since I brought it home. Doesn’t it make you happy just to look at it?

All I know is that I’m afraid to open them for fear of what’s inside. But I’m trying to keep an open mind. Now if I could only work up the courage to open them…

Available at:
58, Rue Tiquetonne (2nd)
Tél: 01 42 36 54 67


Conserverie la belle-iloise
7, rue de l’Ancienne-Comedie (6th)
Tél: 01 43 26 17 73


  • I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but it sounds like you’re having an identity crisis.

  • Meanwhile, I’m looking at these and thinking we’ll have to pick some up during our trip this September! (My husband and I are intrigued by unusual flavor combinations).

  • Well I don’t know about the prunes with tuna, but I bet the one with coconut, lime, and red chili is fantastic. Whenever I’m visiting my brother in LA, I always stock up on the tuna pouches from Trader Joe’s with tuna and red curry. It’s fantastic. No Trader Joe’s in Utah, sigh.

    BTW I was thinking of you on Friday night because I went to see La Vie en Rose, life of Edith Piaf, great film, and I really love her music. Made me want to rush out and buy a CD since I haven’t entered the ipod age yet. (I’m working up to it.)

  • Ah, what I’m missing at G. Detou right now is the two guys who are a hoot. They’re on vacation. I believe the young lady who was behind the counter yesterday is a food blogger herself, but I didn’t ask. But heads up David, I have frequent conversations with the owner about Persian foods and he is trying to receive green raisins from Iran in September. If you’ve never had any and he does receive them, please try them, they’re on a whole different “raisin level”. =)

  • Go for it, David – like you did with the verrines! – then tell us all about it …

  • Go ahead and open it David!

  • I agree with you–those tins are fantastic. I would decorate with them.

  • David, I like the idea of decorating with them, but I say go for the coconut one first. Prunes+tuna? Sounds like quality time in the can with that can! :) Forgive me for the joke.

  • well, david, i’ve made tuna with prok scratchings before and i kept it down. coconut and prune sure wouldn’t scare me! but i’d agree, they look just lovely the way they are – so do take your time, i bet their best-by date is more than a decade from now!!

  • I’ve had prunes and beef together in tzimmes, but with tuna? My gut reaction is: Eeeeek. The other one sounds okay, though.

  • Oooooopennn!!! Pleeeease?
    I’m dying of curiosity.


    I’m curious too!

  • Make up some quick corn tortillas and open that tuna with chilis and lime! Certainly sounds like fish taco in a can to me.

  • We have canned tuna in a coconut and chili brine (we call it tuna-bicol express; the latter denotes a sauce of coconut milk and a lot of chilis). It’s quite popular although I find the sauce not as spicy as I’d like. I usually add more slices of green chili to the stew while it’s heating.

    The prunes should make the sauce a bit caramel like, but I always use prunes in meat dishes to help tenderize the meat. Rather odd to add it to fish, but why not I say! Hope you tell us how the pruny tuna tastes like.

  • Geez, I saw you fondling those cans of tuna almost a week ago. Just open them already! Maybe you’ll find some wacky new ice cream inspiration from them–although I’m pretty sure I wont be able to come for dinner that night.
    I’m just saying.

  • They make nice coasters…no?

  • I for one think the French would find our tuna melts equally bizarre!

  • I like the packaging…and everyone WANTS you to open them, so I am thinking, “No, don’t open them.” Keep them around for years and years and have it be one of those mysterious things about you…you know…”Did you know that DL has had these tuna cans sitting around for absolutely years and years and he has NEVER opened them?” What’s not to love about being a little bit eccentric now and again? My vote: keep them as art…DON’T OPEN THEM! EVER! Put it in your will to be buried with them. Let them all wonder.

  • Once your get up your courage, just don’t make ice cream with them, OK?

  • (laughing from the floor) Kayte and AHarste: Way hilarious, both of you!

  • So I was at G. Detou yesterday buying chocolate and talking to them about powdered sugar, and the woman behind the counter (who is super sweet; I believe she is the daughter of one of the owners) proudly mentioned how they’ve been lots of getting publicity lately and how they even had this famous American pastry chef guy come through last week with a group of folks to record a segment, and how exciting it was, and I said, “I know that guy!”

    And she looked at me like I was somebody special too, and just for a moment I felt all warm and happy. And then I bought two big boxes of chocolate to lug home in my suitcase, which is totally ridiculous and impractical, but whatever.

  • Don’t Open them ! Art is good. Tuna and Prunes maybe not.

  • Connie: Ha! Thanks for the chuckle.

    Cindym & Hilda: Yes, we were at G. Detou filming last week and I think she’s their daughter. They invited me to go into the special cave but I didn’t have time. Will definitely go back…with my camera!

    Kayte: Maybe if I hold onto them long enough, I can sell ’em on eBay.


    Aharste: If I do, I’ll give you full, and undivided credit. That’ll teach ya…

    Mario: I worked with an Italian chef who freaked when I mentioned fish and cheese (ok…so I grew up in New England with bluefish and swiss cheese melted over the top.)

    But I think the French would like a tuna melt. Anything with cheese on it seems to be a hit around here.

    Sara: …ok…you got me on that one…

    Mila: Thanks for the positive spin. Will report back…maybe!

  • Hi! Your web site is helpful. Many thanks. Best regards!

  • David, isn’t it always just the little things?

  • Give me a can opener David and I will do it for you.

  • gak! er, i mean….sounds nice…
    the cans are indeed pretty, though!
    i would suggest the Provencal salad from this month’s Gourmet Magazine – but the coconut?? and the prunes??? those might detract from it a bit.

  • open the tins – you know you want to!

  • Believe it or not, I’m scared to open them. I mean, how can you mess with tuna fish? It’s one thing to jazz it up yourself, but to buy it already done-up is kinda odd to me.

    Prunes and tuna?
    Sorry Charlie…

  • I have a pack of “hangover tea” I purchased on a hiking trip in North Korea that I can’t seem to make myself open for the same reasons you described. Not only am I not sure I’ll like it, or what to do with it – the packaging is just sooo….pretty.
    I like looking at them. Don’t rush yourself into anything!

    Hand to Mouth

  • Well, you sure won’t go hungry with all the good advice you’re getting! I haven’t tried the Marie Galante tin, but the Zanzibar one was indeed a bit strange. La Belle Iloise has been on a new-product craze in the past year or so, and only some of their frankenfish tins turn out right, in my opinion. The company gets lots of write-ups for their fanciful design work, but the robe doesn’t make the monk, as we say in French. In my experience, those tins are good to have around for unexpected apéritif guests — and that way, your guest can open them, saving you the dilemma!

  • Well a Flight Attendant Friend of mine brought them on our last trip and let me tell you if you like tuna you are missing out on a very tasty treat. We had the both that you have mention and the other was with olive oil. Over baked potatoe or crackers it was a good lunch.