Bonjour! Provence occupies the southeast corner of France, and is neighbored to the east by Italy and to the west by Spain. The warm, dry climate is ideal for the lavish fields of golden sunflowers and fragrant lavender. It is also perfect for the bountiful groves of olive trees, tomato vines and varied herbs. The dry soil is best for poultry farming. Game birds are also plentiful in Provence.

Provençal cooking is simple, yet highly flavored by the pungent olives, garlic and herbs characteristic of the area. Inland fare consists mainly of poultry and vegetables. Ratatouille, a blend of tomatoes and eggplant roasted with herbs, is popular throughout the region – and worldwide. Aioli, or garlic mayonnaise, is also prevalent, and served with just about anything from eggs to artichokes. Though uncomplicated and rustic, Provençal fare is anything but plain.

     
   
   
colorful bouillabaisse laden with seafood
                   

The cuisine of the Mediterranean coast is similar to the rest of the area – but seafood is much more plentiful. Marseille, a fishing village on the coast, is famous for a simple, savory seafood stew called bouillabaisse. It is traditionally a fisherman’s stew and includes varied fish and shellfish. The aromatic broth is spiced with saffron, garlic, tomatoes and olive oil. It is a world-famous, often-reproduced dish that Marseille locals are very proud of.

 
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chicken with 40 cloves of garlic         ratatouille
 

Recipe: Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic (left)

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Recipe: Ratatouille (right)

 
       
 

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