France has always been well known for its amazing foods throughout the ages. World-class chefs are in abundance across the country, and many others strive to meet those expectations. The country itself is split into thirteen regions, each with its own specific specialities of both dishes and desserts. The coastal region of Provence is home to some phenomenal foods as well as breathtaking sights, making it one of the most popular vacation destinations in Europe. When it comes to foodies, many search for exciting gastronomic experiences to partake in, having the chance to enjoy some of the wonderful foods that this region and country has to offer.
Arlesian short soup
This typical Provencal style food from the city of Arles, as creative as its name suggests, is akin to a stew. It is part of the large culinary family of the potées: traditional recipes mixing meat and vegetables whose name comes from the terracotta pot in which they were cooked. If the casserole has now replaced the clay pots, the recipe remains authentic. In Arles it is prepared with mutton, Camargue rice, onions, garlic, carrots, and spices. This thick soup is a meal on its own with the meat served on the side with a delicious tomato sauce.
When we think about food in Provence, we tend to think about delicious, fresh seafood and being on the coast, and this is a very safe assumption. Dishes like Bouillabaisse are a very popular option along the seafront of cities like Cassis and Marseille. Southern French cuisine benefits from the wonderfully bountiful Mediterranean Sea and provides chefs with exciting yet slightly unpredictable ingredients. An evening at your favorite seafood restaurant is rarely going to present the same delicacies night after night, making for many exciting experiences, such as visiting the marketplaces around Marseille, or even those further inland like Camargue Coquillage, where fresh fish are delivered within a couple of hours of being caught.
Speaking of seafood, this dish is one of the most popular and traditional dishes in Southern France. This dish, created in the beautiful city of Marseille, is a humble yet delicious fish stew containing everything from sea robin and even conger eel. The adaptability of this stew, as well as most of the food in Provence, coupled with the fact that fishermen rarely made the same catches every day, means that it’s common for these dishes to be prepared using a variety of different fish each time. While Bouillabaisse is predominantly made using fish, it’s also occasionally made using certain types of crustacean and shellfish, too, depending on where you go.
This is not wholly dissimilar to the classic beef bourguignon in that it’s perfect for colder evenings during the festive period, except that it possesses a significant Mediterranean twist, as is the way of the food in Provence. While it entirely depends on preference, a beef daube is regularly cooked in a rich red wine sauce with tomatoes, olives, and even anchovies for that added bang of flavor. It may seem like a simple and hearty dish, but this well-respected food has earned its reputation and is a popular choice for many.
This specialty from the town of Martigues in the Bouches-du-Rhône is a luxury dish: bottarga or poutargue as the French call it, is THE caviar of Provencal style food. It is prepared with salted mullet eggs that are cured and dried in the shape of a sausage. Iconic of food in Provence, enjoy its strong taste cut into thin slices and spread on a delicious artisan bread (buttered or lightly soaked in olive oil) or grated on pasta, salad, scrambled eggs or rice. It is also used as seasoning in a sauce with onions and sour cream, it’s original and perfect with rice or pasta. Mixed with butter and left for a few hours in the fridge, it makes for a tasty spread on a generous slice of home-made bread.
When we talk about food in Provence, it isn’t always just about large, filling dishes. Occasionally you’ll find some foods that are perfect for a casual midday snack or an appetizer before dinner. Olives are grown in abundance in this region, as with many other Mediterranean areas. There are countless uses for this healthy and delicious food, with many different types of seasonings added to them. One thing that olives are perfect for is the creation of tapenade. This is generally a paste mixture of olives and salty capers, which are the perfect spread to add to a warm baguette or as an addition to a cheeseboard. Sometimes foods like sun-dried tomatoes or anchovies are added to this paste for an added kick. Just remember to be sparing with your tapenade, as it can get very salty!
Another food in Provence that borrows some inspiration from neighboring countries such as Italy is Fougasse. Similar to the focaccia, this olive-stuffed bread is incredibly popular across the southern coast of France. There are many restaurant experiences such as Le Mas Bottero that strive to provide their diners with the most exquisite flavors from around Provence, and often you’ll find that their menus change regularly to demonstrate the huge variety from humble yet tasty bread like the fougasse to experimental dishes honoring the wealth of ingredients and flavors from around the Southern regions of France and the entire Mediterranean.