15 food specialities from Marseille and the Provence
If you plan to live or study in Southern France, especially in the Provence region, you should know about some food specialities. The Provence is famous for its good and quality food. We use a lot of fish, soaked-cooking, sauces with garlic and parsley, fried things, etc. I think that trying some local dishes is a good way to get more familiar with your new country, and this is also a way to discover customs, believes, and local celebrations. Enjoy your reading!
1/15 The “Navettes de Marseille”
The navette is a biscuit created in 1781 by Monsieur Aveyrous. Its ingredients are wheat flour, sugar, eggs, butter and orange blossom flavour. This is a typical biscuit from Marseille, and you can buy some at the “Four des Navettes” bakery at 136 Rue Sainte. You can easily recognise the biscuit because it is boat-shaped. We used to eat navettes only around the 2nd or February for Candlemas, but now the Four des Navettes makes them all year long, so you can buy some anytime.
2/15 The “bouillabaisse”
The bouillabaisse is a fish soup. It consists in heads and tails of fish and langoustines mixed with vegetables and garlic croutons. We soak the ingredients on a low heat. Before it became a famous dish in some gastronomic restaurants, the bouillabaisse was a meal used by poor fishermen who kept unsold or damaged fish to make a soup and avoid waste. If you want to try the bouillabaisse in Marseille, you should go to “Chez Michel” at 6 rue des Catalans or “Chez Fonfon” at 140 rue du Vallon-des-Auffes.
3/15 The “panisses”
The panisse is originally from Italy, but Marseillais people are very keen on eating it! We make it with chickpea flour and water. You buy them raw and have to fry them in a pan with some oil. It is possible to add salt if you want to eat them salty, or sugar if you prefer them sweet. You can eat them in restaurants such as “la Boîte à Panisses” (23 Rue Caisserie) and find some in the 16th district of Marseille called “l’Estaque”.
4/15 The “chichi Fregi”
Among the food specialities in Provence, another famous one is the “Chichi Fregi”. This is a fried fritter originally from l’Estaque neighbourhood. This is fried in boiling oil and added with sugar.
5/15 The “soupe au pistou” (pistou soup)
The « soupe au pistou » is a mix of vegetables such as red beans, flat beans, potatoes, tomatoes, courgettes, onions and garlic. We stew all the ingredients on a low heat. When they are cooked, you add the pistou sauce, which is a mix of garlic, basil, olive oil and Parmesan cheese. Some people prefer to add pasta, but it’s not compulsory.
6/15 The “pompe à l’huile”
The day after Christmas, it is usual in Provence to eat the “pompe à l’huile”. This is a simple cake we make with either butter or olive oil, and I think you got it, we prefer the one with olive oil in Provence. You’ll find some in bakeries.
7/15 The “brousse”
The brousse is a type of fromage frais that we use a lot in Provence. It was originally made with goat milk, but some are made with cow or sheep milk.
The “aioli” is a garlic sauce. This is a typical dish from Marseille that embodies all Provence’s flavours. The goal is to cook ingredients such as fish, eggs and vegetables, adding just a bit of pepper and salt. Then, we make the aioli sauce with garlic, salt, 2 egg yolks, olive and sunflower oil. It forms a thick sauce that you add on the ingredients to eat.
9/ 15 The “tapenade” and the “anchoïade”
According to me, the tapenade is one of the most famous food specialities from Provence. A lot of other countries know it. As you might already know, the main ingredients are the olives (black or green), olive oil and garlic. You eat it on a bread slice. The anchoïade is the same recipe but with anchovies and vinegar.
10/15 The “daube Provençale”
The daube is a soaked meat. In Provence, we usually use beef, but the recipe can vary from a city to another and some people use lamb, sheep or even bull in Camargue. Thus, it consists in beef pieces soaked in red wine to which you add carrots, onions, bay leaves, some thyme, an orange, black olives, and olive oil. You can serve it with potatoes or pasta.
11/15 The “gâteau des rois” (kings’ cake) for Epiphany
This is a cake that is made in a few French regions, including the Provence, and in Spain. We eat it on the 6th of January for Epiphany to celebrate the day when the Three Kings visited Jesus. On the cake, we add some sugar, crystallised fruits and orange blossom flavour.
12/15 The “tomates à la Provençale”
The “tomates à la Provençale” is one of the most appreciated food specialities of Provence. It consists in tomatoes that we garnish with parsley, breadcrumbs, garlic and olive oil. We cook them in an oven or a pan. This is a very simple and healthy dish that we usually serve with rice.
13/15 The “Treize desserts” (Thirteen desserts)
To celebrate the 13th dish of this list, let’s talk about the “Treize desserts”. This is a big table of fruits and cakes we make on Christmas day. In Provence, we usually take fresh and dried fruits: apples, pears, bananas, oranges, mandarins, dates, walnuts or hazelnuts, almonds, raisins, figs, as well as the pompes (with oil or butter, as we mentioned earlier), the nougat, and the fougasse. The assortment varies from a region to another.
14/15 The “fougasse”
The fougasse (or fougace) is a bread from Provence that we make with flour, baker’s yeast, and olive oil. We can cook it either sweet with sugar, or salty with onions, black olives, anchovies and bacon strips.
15/15 The “Colombier” cake
Finally, the last Provence’s dish that we’re going to mention is the Colombier. It’s a typical cake from Marseille with a beautiful story: as we already mentioned in Why is Marseille an amazing city for international students?, Gyptis, Nano’s daughter, had to marry someone. As she couldn’t make up her mind, she wanted the destiny to decide for her. She put a dove-shaped charm in the Colombier cake (that’s why we call it in this way, since “colombe” means dove in French). She would marry the one who would find it. It was Protis, a Greek navigator, and their marriage built “Massilia”, Marseille.
Here was a list of some food specialities from Marseille and the Provence! Hope you enjoyed your reading! Don’t forget to check out our Facebook page, and also have a look at our other articles. See you soon!