Provence is famed in France for its cuisine and for a nation that loves its food this is quite an accolade. Provence is perfectly situated to benefit from an abundance of fantastic ingredients and the cooks in the region love to specialize in seasonal foods that have the freshest of ingredients. The Provence region is diverse and the food reflects this, from hearty stews to delicate seafood dishes and glorious pastries. Here are some of the must-try dishes you must enjoy when visiting Provence.
Bouillabaisse is the king of all fish soups, and it is a signature dish of the port of Marseille. No two bouillabaisses are ever the same, and every chef puts his own spin on this unique and colorful dish. The local people of Marseille expect the way their bouillabaisse is served to match the incredibly intense flavors emanating from this broth. The ingredients vary from place to place but an authentic bouillabaisse should contain no less than four different kinds of fish. The actual broth is at the center of this dish and is the most important part. Crushed fish heads and other assorted discarded parts are simmered with a rockfish stock, onions, tomatoes, heaps of garlic, liberal amounts of saffron and garnished with a rouille. Bouillabaisse should be of vibrant orange color almost the same as cooked lobster shells, and normally it is served with crusty bread to mop up all the wonderful juices.
No drink represents the Provence region more than Pastis, once again hailing from Marseille this aniseed liqueur is now famed all over the word. It was developed in 1932 by Paul Ricard and the amber colored liquid mysteriously turns to an opaque white when water is added. Locals will drink Pastis at any time of the day, but it is particularly popular as an aperitif or to sip chatting over a game of chess.
The next dish might come as a surprise to many gastronomes as its roots are firmly based on peasant food. Daube was a poor man’s dish as it is basically a stew made from off-cuts of beef. The southern cooks learned that slowly braising the tough meat in a robust red wine broke down the sinews and made the meat delicate and unctuous. After the meat has been slowly cooking for an hour or so over a gentle heat, then vegetables, garlic and herbs are added to add flavor and to thicken up the broth. Quite often Daube is served with gnocchi or simple polenta.
Our final dish of Provence is more of an accompaniment than a dish to be eaten by itself, but it is an integral part of the cuisine of this part of France. Ratatouille represents the colors of Provence as well as the flavors, it is basically a vegetarian casserole and although the ingredients do vary, most traditional recipes include aubergines, courgettes, onions, garlic, bell pepper, tomatoes and fresh herbs. It can be served on its own but really comes to the fore as an accompaniment to grilled meats or fish.
These are just some of the delightful dishes and drinks that come from Provence, and visiting the area you will also find many local recipes that are simply delicious.