French Gastronomy per Regions 3/6 : The Southeast

Part three of our culinary “Tour de France”

The South East is composed of two well  known areas by foreigners, it starts around Montpellier, the Provence region then goes eastward through the French Riviera up to the Italian boundaries near Monaco it also goes along the Rhone valley up to Montelimar.

Forget duck fat and butter or cream you enter the dominion of Olive Oil. Even before the Roman invasions 2100 years ago olive trees made their way to the countryside of Provence, the region of the French Riviera were a late addition to France (1860) so the northern Italian influence can be found in their cuisine as well.

Local ingredients in cuisine

  • Olives and Olive oils
  • Garlic
  • Rosemary, Tymn, Oregano, Fennel, Tarragon, Anis
  • Melon
  • Red pepper, zucchini, eggplant, tomato, cucumber 

Local drinks

  • Pastis
  • Rhone valley wines (Chateauneuf du Pape, Côte du Rhone…)
  • Rosé wines (Bandol…)

And here are some very local dishes 

  • Bouillabaisse (fish stew) and Soupe de poisson (fish soup)
  • Ratatouille (do I really need to describe it?)
  • Pissaladière a very French pizza based on a thick pan pizza style dough with onions, anchovies and black olives (no cheese)
  • Swordfish with red peppers
  • Sardine with olive oil or barbecued
  • Tapenade (olive spread makes fantastic toasts along with anchovies)
  • Socca (chickpeas bread with herbs and pepper) and Fougasse (bread with olive oil, herbs, olives and many other variable ingredients)
  • Aïoli garlic mayonnaise

Desserts or sweets

  • Calisson (orange and melon marzipan bites)
  • Tarte Tropézienne (you can try it on our St Germain tour)
  • Nougats from Montelimar 
  • Nuts and Pine nuts tart
  • Candied fruits and their use in breads

As part of our introduction to French gastronomy our award wining Food Tours always contain some regional flavouring.

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