food and the wines of Provence
Provençal food is classically Mediterranean; with most of
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, courgettes, bell peppers and tomatoes .
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.
Among popular Provençal dishes, one can note:
au pistou - a thick vegetable soup flavoured with basil
marseillaise - the great Mediterranean fish soup.
d'aubergine (called by several different names including Tian d'aubergines):
baked in olive oil, with chopped onion and tomato, seasoned
with herbs, and covered with grated cheese .
provençal - a stew made from beef
marinated in red
wine, with herbs pepper, garlic and olive oil.
- 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
provençal - provençal rabbit stew:
marinated in white wine, then stewed with shalotts, rosemary, thyme,
black olives, tomatoes, garlic and lardons (cubes of bacon)
a speciality of Nice : an onion and anchovy tart, or a kind of pizza
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.
Cotes du Rhône vineyard at Gigondas
is the oldest wine producing area in France. The cultivation of the
vine spread round the Mediterranean before the age of the Greeks and
the Romans, and the first vines were grown in the area around
Marseilles in the 6th century BC, if not earlier.
Today Provence is famous for its red and rosé
wines. Perhaps the
most reputed of Provence's "appellation protégée" (previously appellation contrôlée
wines is Chateauneuf du
, from just outside Avignon.
A lot of the vineyards in the Rhone valley part of Provence
are in the "Côtes du Rhône
designated area – which actually extends
well beyond the limits of Provence. The
also famous for its dry "Côtes
" rosé wines, that are
served as an accompaniment to local dishes. Another well-known Provence
wine is Bandol
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
Les Calissons d'Aix: delicious slices of almond paste topped with a
Les fruits confits: candied fruit, produced by traditional
Photo top of page: in Provençal towns restaurants spill out into the
narrow streets, shaded from the midday sun.
Provence region, covering the French Riviera, the Provence Alps,
historic Provence and the area
historically linked to Provence
Stuffed courgettes (zucchini), tomatoes and peppers à la provençale
Red mullet on a Provençal market
Olives on sale in the market at Aix
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