Full of sunshine, it is full of tastes: Provencal cuisine includes many salty specialties, some sweet treats, and many extraordinary chefs to enhance it.
Let's go on a gourmet journey to discover Provencal specialties.
The basics of Provençal cuisine
A tasty combination of cuisine (French, Italian, Spanish, Greek and African), Provencal cuisine is generous and sun-kissed.
It is often found rich and delicious: it must be said that it is based on olive oil, fragrant herbs, garlic and aromatics.
There is also a major characteristic: the abundance of use of vegetables, historically to compensate for the deficit in meat which was too expensive at the time.
The result ? a cuisine with authentic flavors.
Savory Provencal specialties
But let's get to the heart of the matter: let's start with an overview of savory Provençal specialties.
The Sisteron lamb is considered one of the best breeds of lamb: from Durance to Baux, lambs graze on particularly fragrant flora.
Since 1995, it has even benefited from the famous Label Rouge (a guarantee of superior quality).
It is often cooked in a rack of lamb with mashed potatoes, or in chops with sautéed potatoes, all flavored with marjoram and thyme.
It looks like mayonnaise, but is (as the name suggests) much garlic: aioli is a cold emulsion, rather thick and very fragrant.
It is also a full-fledged dish, accompanied by fish (often white, cod-type) and boiled or steamed vegetables.
Here is perhaps the most famous Provencal dish: bouillabaisse, this soup with at least 12 fish in it.
Today, it is a rather expensive dish because it requires rare fish (lionfish, wolf, red mullet) to compose it.
To this is added a saffron broth, rouille (creamy and spicy sauce) and toasted croutons (previously rubbed with garlic).
Pieds et paquets
The feet and bundles are the guts in Marseille style, stuffed and cooked over low heat in white wine with onions, carrots and bacon.
A real, typical Provençal dish, which will go especially well with a Côte-de-Provence !
Is there really a dish that smells more of the Mediterranean than ratatouille?
This stew of eggplants, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, onions and garlic is known and appreciated in Nice as the Provence green, passing through the Lubéron and the Côte Bleue.
It's up to you to decide whether you want to prepare it as in Nice (brown each type of vegetable independently in olive oil) or as in Marseille (“à la bohémienne”, or all at the same time!).
Soupe au pistou
If we say basil, garlic, olive oil, are you telling us ...? Pistou (or pesto!) Of course!
Purists don't use cheese, unlike Italians, and combine pesto and summer vegetables to compose a fragrant soup, which can be enjoyed even in the heat of summer.
The condiments that enhance Provençal cuisine
But what would Provencal cuisine be without a few condiments to accompany its preparation?
This salt comes from the Salin-de-Giraud basins, a few minutes from Saintes-Marie-de-la-Mer. Camargue salt is renowned throughout France and comes to enhance all the dishes of Provençal gastronomy.
The guilty pleasure of many Provencal people! Tapenade is a puree of black or green olives, capers and olive oil. It can be spread on small croutons or served with regional fish.
This sauce is the essential partner of bouillabaisse. It consists of fresh red peppers, crushed with garlic, all mixed with olive oil and breadcrumbs. The little secret of Provencal people: they sometimes add sea urchin coral!
Sweet treats of Provençal gastronomy
Aix specialty since the 15th century (at the time when le Roi René réhabilite les vignobles de la région ), the calisson is a candy in the shape of a shuttle, scented with orange blossom.
Basically, a sheet of bread. Above, royal icing. Between the two, a paste of almonds, honey and candied fruit.
Candied fruits are Apt's specialty.
Often strawberries, apricots or plums are candied and make delicious treats.
Ah this cookie ! Boy do we like it at Planetazur ! It is not very sweet and its shape is reminiscent of a small boat.
However, there is a sweet scent of orange blossom ... it goes very well for a little treat in the afternoon or to accompany a coffee.
Today, everyone thinks the nougat is from Montélimar. But did you know that it historically comes from Sault and Saint-Didier? In the Vaucluse mountains, nougat is made with pruned almonds from Provence.
It is also one of the 13 Christmas desserts, this superb Provencal tradition that we adore.
10 emblematic chefs of Provençal gastronomy
1. Pierre Reboul à Aix-en-Provence
Although he is from Villeurbanne, Pierre Reboul is nevertheless considered today as a true Aix chef.
On a daily basis, he likes to cultivate the false in appearance but the taste in reality thanks to noble products and classic preparations, traditional but revisited in a provocative way.
2. Matthieu Dupuis-Baumal au “Château de la Gaude », à Aix-en-Provence
Awarded one star just a few months after its opening, Matthieu Dupuis-Baumal's restaurant (in an exceptional setting) features Provençal and Asian cuisine.
Always in search of perfection, this Chef with an atypical personality has only one idea in mind: to make you travel.
3. Glenn Viel, à L’Oustau de Baumanière, aux Baux-de-Provence
3 Michelin stars and the “Sustainable Gastronomy” distinction are enough to describe the commitment and authenticity of Chef Glenn Viel, as well as his boundless imagination.
His passion: to highlight the product in its most authentic version and to offer a unique experience.
4. Mathieu Desmarest à Avignon
Passionate about cooking since the age of 10, Mathieu Desmarest was elected best apprentice in France in 2008.
This year, he obtained his first star. A Chef to taste an honest and tasty cuisine...
5. Christophe Bacquié au Castellet
Triple starred, Christophe Bacquié was also elected Meilleur Ouvrier de France in 2004.
n charge of the kitchens of the Hotel & Spa du Castellet since 2009, the Chef offers the Mediterranean in all that it has most generous and delicate to offer.
6. Alexandre Mazzia à Marseille
A true Master Artist, in perpetual motion, Alexandre Mazzia infuses his childhood memories of the Congo into his kitchen.
Everything is good and beautiful, an extraordinary taste adventure.
7. Coline Faulquier à Marseille
Top Chef finalist in 2016, Coline Faulquier is a dynamic Chef.
His seasonal cuisine is inventive, neat, surprising. Every day the Chef lets himself be carried away by the market and its mood, but the result on the plate is always fresh and delicious.
8. Christopher Hache à Eygalières
The Chef Christopher Hache honors the tasty cuisine of Provence, and more particularly of the Alpilles.
Lamb, fruits and vegetables of the region, as well as les vins are favored by the Chef, for a local cuisine, raw, with multiple flavors.
9. Nadia Sammut à Lourmarin
Nadia Sammut (daughter of Reine Sammut) is the only Michelin-starred chef in a gluten-free restaurant. She herself was forced to change her diet because of her gluten and lactose intolerance.
Today, this constraint guides her to "thrill the palate" of her clients.
10. Mathias Dandine à Gémenos
Provençal and Riviera accents are found in Mathias Dandine's cuisine.
His biases mainly concern seasonings and cooking, but he attaches great importance to the product. A generous, gourmet and tasty cuisine.
We hope that this little trip to discover Provençal gastronomy will have pleased you… The floor is now yours: what is your favorite Provencal dish? Which chef would you like to eat at? Let us know in the comments!