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About Me:Hi I’m Nadege and I study French at the University of Leeds, and I have just completed my third year abroad in Montpellier studying literature and enjoying the sunshine! I love art; painting and being creative, as well as photography and baking. Travelling is my favourite hobby at the moment; experiencing the French language and culture. I hope you enjoy reading some of my articles!
Provençal cooking is largely based on cooking with oil, herbs and fish from the Mediterranean Sea. The south eastern region of Provence (the largest city within this region is Marseille) is very well-known for its specialities, with its cuisine referred to as the ‘cuisine du soleil’, the food of the sun. The distinct culinary culture which Provence offers means that there are numerous food and drink specialities. L’anchoïade is a speciality which is made from ‘anchois’, anchovies, which is very common in many recipes in this region of the South of France. It is a kind of puree of anchovies, made into a sauce which is eaten cold, and most commonly accompanied with raw vegetables such as tomatoes, radishes, lettuce, cucumber etc. It can also be spread onto French toast – perfect for an appetiser.
Tapenade is another speciality made from olives, either green or back, which is turned into a paste, and is eaten on toast or bread, ideal to be served as canapés. The olives are usually crushed and mixed with garlic, capers and anchovies to give it a stronger taste. As well as a paste, it can be used as a dressing for salads or served with some fish and meats in order to add some decoration or to create a more flavoursome meal. Personally, I can eat tapenade out of the jar with some breadsticks, as it is particularly tasty! It can also be found in Waitrose and possibly some other supermarkets in the UK, if you wanted to try it out!
Other starters typically found in the region of Provence are the soupe au pistou and the petit farcis. Firstly, the soupe au pistou is a vegetable soup with many Provencal flavours. The vegetable soup also includes pasta and pistou (basil, olive oil and garlic). The vegetables used to make the soup are usually green beans, tomatoes and potatoes. After adding the pasta which is normally vermicelle (vermicelli) and then the pistou, there is the option to add some grated cheese to finish off the soup. Petit farcis however are are stuffed baked vegetables, usually tomatoes, aubergines or peppers. They are usually stuffed with sausage meat, baked and then eaten warm. Stuffed tomatoes usually work best as a starter, and larger vegetables can be used for a main meal.
In terms of drink, the most popular aperitif in Provence is pastis, an anise-based spirit. Pastis is usually drunk with water, in order to dilute the spirit before drinking. Generally, people dilute the spirit with five times the amount of water as there is pastis.
I would highly reccomend visiting Provence and tasting as many of the specialities as possible, as the meals there are richly varied and also very healthy!