The cuisine of Provence

About Provence - France's Mediterranean heartland

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Food and wine of Provence 

About Provence - France's Mediterranean heartland


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Provençal food and the wines of Provence

Provençal food is classically Mediterranean; with most of the population living on the coastal strip, fish naturally play a big part in Provençal cuisine; but Provençal food is perhaps more famously reputed for its use of herbs and vegetables, notably aubergines .

   The main herbs used in Provençal cooking are thyme, basil,  rosemary, oregano and fennel.
   However, if there is one item that characterises all types of Mediterranean food, it is the use of olive oil for cooking. Provençal cooking is no exception, and many of the finest Provençal dishes are based on Mediterranean vegetables and olive oil.

Popular Provençal dishes:

Among popular Provençal dishes, one can note:
  • Soupe au pistou - a thick vegetable soup flavoured with basil and herbs
  • Bouillabaisse marseillaise - the great Mediterranean fish soup.
  • Gratin d'aubergine (called by several different names): sliced aubergines baked in olive oil, with chopped onion and tomato,  seasoned with herbs, and covered with grated cheese .
  • Daube provençal - a stew made from  beef marinated in red wine, with herbs pepper, garlic and olive oil.
  • Ratatouille - basically any mixture of vegetables chopped and stewed together; the traditional Provençal ratatouille is a mixture of tomatoes, peppers (bell peppers), onions, courgettes (zucchini) and aubergines (egg-plant).
  • Lapin provençal - provençal rabbit stew: rabbit marinated in white wine, then stewed with shalotts, rosemary, thyme, black olives, tomatoes, garlic and lardons (cubes of bacon)
  • Pissaladière: a sepciality of Nice : an onion and anchovy tart, or a kind of pizza without tomatoes.

Provence olives.
Olives have been grown in Provence for thousands of years. The most famous Provence olives are the fleshy black "Olives de Nyons", the  green Picholine olive, with a mild and nutty flavour, and the small "niçoise" olive that comes in a variety of colours.

Provence wines

Gigondas vineyard
Cotes du Rhône vineyard at Gigondas
Provence is famous for its red and rosé wines. Perhaps the most reputed of Provence's "appellation contrôlée" wines is Chateauneuf du Pape, from just outside Avignon.  A lot of the vineyards in the Rhone valley part of Provence are in the "Côtes du Rhône" designated area. The region is also famous for its dry "rosé"  wines, that are often served as an accompaniment to local dishes. Another well-known Provence wine is Bandol, produced in one of the oldest wine-growing areas of France; it is a distinctive dark red wine, which is very southern Mediterranean in flavour.
For more on French wines, see the French wine guide on About-France.com

Provence sweets
Les Calissons d'Aix: delicious slices of almond paste topped with a sugary covering.
Les fruits confits:  candied fruit, produced by traditional methods.

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Map of Provence region
Provence region , covering the French Riviera, the Provence Alps, historic Provence and the area historically linked to Provence
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Dorades in Nice fish market

Red mullet on a Provençal market



Provence olives

Olives on sale in the market at Aix


Provence roofs
Provençal roofs


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