Provençal Food Specialties

Provençal cooking falls quite easily into the category of “cuisine du soleil” – much like its Italian & Greek counterparts, it relies heavily on the use of olive oil, herbs, and the bounty of the Mediterranean sea. Eating in Provence is a constant process of discovery – the following list highlights some of the specialties which can be found on tables around the South.

L’angneau de Provence:

Lamb is from Provence is regarded as having a particular taste & quality – most notably the lamb from Sisteron is the highest regarded of the region.

Learn more about “red label” lamb on the official Sisteron site (in French): http://www.agneaudesisteron.fr/

L’aioli:

Aïoli is a garlic mayonnaise used as a spread for vegetables, fish, and crusty breads.  In the case of a grand aïoli, there is a well-defined list of foods to be served with said spread, namely salt cod, snails, mussels, eggs, potatoes, and summer vegetables.

L’ anchoïade:

Purée of anchovies, mixed with olive oil & capers, very thick – often found at local markets where olives & tapenades are sold.

Le boeuf en daube:

Chunks of cooked beef cooked with olive oil, lard, onions, oil, and herbs; served with sauce or red wine.

La bouillabaisse:

There are at least a dozen fish are used in this well-seasoned soup. Once a dish of the poor, it’s become a plate for the rich due to the rarity of the fish needed for its creation. Fish commonly used are scorpion fish, sea bass, and the red mullet or “goat fish”.  Accompanied by a think & spicy sauce, la rouille, & grilled croutons generously rubbed with garlic.

La bourride:

A cheaper type of bouillabaisse, made with white fish (mullet, monkfish, whiting) & served with aioli.

Calissons:

A (delicious) speciality of Aix-en-Provence, these tiny “cookies” are actually a mix of crushed almonds & candied melon topped with royal icing. Not-to-be missed…

Calisson
Calissons for sale at the Aix-en-Provence market.

 Les grenouilles a la provencale:

Frog legs grilled with oil & garlic after being rolled in flour.

Le lapin a la provençale:

Rabbit slow-cooked in white wine with garlic, mustard, herbs, & tomatoes.

Les pieds-paquets:

A specialty of Marseille & Sisteron, this dish is made of sheep’s offal (stomach and feet), simmered in a sauce of white wine and tomato. The stomach (or paunch) is cut and rolled in the shape of “packages” to be stuffed with parsley, garlic, pepper, & bacon.

Olives for sale in Ollioules village.
Olives for sale in Ollioules village.

Olives:

Covered in parsley, layered with garlic, or simply left on their own, no trip to Provence is complete without sampling as many varieties of olives as possible.

Pastis:

Pastis is an anise-flavored liqueur and the drink for apéritif hour in the South of France. Pastis is filled about a quarter full in a tall glass to which the drinker adds water to his/her desired taste.

Pastis tasting A pastis boutique in Cassis.

La ratatouille:

A well-known regional favorite where tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, and zucchini are mixed onions, garlic, and a mix of herbs such as herbes de Provence.

La rouille:

This indispensible partner for making bouillabaisse calls for fresh chili pepper, garlic, sea urchin, & potatoes – later spread on bread or croutons & added to soup.

La soupe au pistou:

Another legend of Provencal cooking; soup composed of beans & vegetables using a base of basil & garlic ground in olive oil.

La tapenade:

Puree of black olives (or green) and capers mixed with olive oil, often served on grilled bread.

Tapenade Ollioules
Tapanade at the Olive Festival, Ollioules.

Les truffes:

Found from November to March, people travel for miles to benefit from the truffles found at local markets in Valreas, Richerenches, Apt, Vaison, and Carpentras.

Truffle Omelette
A truffle omelette in Carpentras.

 For more on Provençal specialties and expert cooking advice, consult the books of Patricia Wells:

The Provence Cookbook & Patricia Wells At Home in Provence.

2 comments on “Provençal Food Specialties

  1. This is great! Yum 🙂 My mom, godmother and aunt are coming to France from South Africa to spend my 30th birthday with me and we’re doing a ladies trip around Provence..I’ll be sure to try as many of these specialties as I can!

    Like

    • Thanks so much for your kind comment! And hope you have a lovely visit with your mom, godmother and aunt – so many great foods to try!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s