When you think about french cuisine, croissants, baguettes and scargots may come to mind. But a very famous and delicious salad dish is also of french origin. Does the city of Nice, located in the french riviera, ring any bells? Yes, we are talking about the Niçoise Salad.
The salad is the perfect dish for the fresh and Mediterranean vibes of the city, also widely known for its ports and historical value as a city. That is why our Secret Food Tour in Nice, which includes 8 local-favorite spots to eat, takes you to satisfy in the classic Niçoise Salad, made and curated by locals to perfection.
Join us as we explore the history of this beautiful city, home to ancient history, savoring its culinary masterpiece through the lens of our Secret Food Tour.
The Historic City of Nice
Welcome to the sun-kissed paradise of Nice. Here, history, culture, and gastronomy join together to create an enchanting real-life paradise that is sure to leave a mark on every traveler that passes by. As you walk along those beautiful streets, full of ancient history and gorgeous buildings, basking in the warmth of the Mediterranean sun, you’re about to embark on an adventure through time – an adventure that reveals the history of Niçoise Salad.
Nicknamed Nice la Belle (meaning “Nice The Beautiful”) the city, located in the french riviera, is the second largest city in the Mediterranean Coast, and rather close to the french-italian border (hence the fantastic cuisine, inspired by the mix of both countries). The city was most likely founded in 350 BC and was named after the greek goddess of Nike. The city became part of Italy between 1792 and 1815 and only became French territory again in 1860, when it was re-indexed to the French Republic. Because of its historical importance as a winter resort town for the European aristocracy and the resulting mix of cultures found in the city, the city of Nice was proclaimed a World Heritage Site in 2021.
If you’re thinking about visiting Nice, it just might be a great choice. The city has the second largest hotel capacity in the country, just after Paris, and it is the second most visited city in Metropolitan France, receiving around 4 million tourists every year. It also has the third busiest airport in France, after the two main Parisian ones, so it shouldn’t be any trouble getting there or finding the nicest hotels for whatever prince range you have. With a history spanning centuries, the city has seen the passage of ancient civilizations, each leaving its mark on the vibrant mosaic that defines modern-day Nice.
Today, the city seamlessly blends historical architecture with contemporary elegance, offering a captivating juxtaposition of old-world charm and modern vibrancy. Other than its historical buildings and architecture, Nice is also very well-known for its cuisine. Most famous dishes include the ratatouille, the “Pissaladière”, and obviously, the niçoise salad.
The Niçoise Salad: what and how is it made?
One of the most iconic gifts that Nice has given the world is the Niçoise Salad. Beyond its exquisite flavors, this dish carries the essence of centuries-old trade routes, and fisherman tales, where diverse cultures joined together to create a culinary dish that mirrors the city’s rich heritage. The salad has been popular worldwide since the early 20th century and is traditionally made of tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, Niçoise olives and anchovies or tuna, dressed with olive oil, or in some historical versions, a vinaigrette. Salade niçoise can be served either as a composed salad or as a tossed salad. Freshly cooked or canned tuna may be added.
In other versions popular around the world, the niçoise salad may include raw red peppers, shallots, artichoke hearts and other seasonal raw vegetables, but also green beans (cooked or raw) and potatoes are commonly served in variations of the salad. Picture yourself savoring a dish that embodies the very essence of the Mediterranean
The salad’s roots trace back to the city’s history as a bustling seaport, where fishermen and traders ingeniously combined ingredients to create a dish that resonates with the heart of Mediterranean cuisine. The first known version of this salad was allegedly created in the 19th century and was a combination of tomatoes, anchovies and olive oil. Over time, other fresh and mostly raw ingredients were added to the salad as served in Nice. A 1903 recipe by Henri Heyraud included tomatoes, anchovies, artichokes, olive oil, red peppers and black olives, but excluded tuna and lettuce. The ingredients and variants of the niçoise salad have been debated for long.
Former Nice mayor and author Jacques Médecin called for the salad to be served in a wooden bowl rubbed with garlic, and excluded boiled vegetables, he wrote that the salad should be made mostly of tomatoes salted three times and moistened with olive oil, added hard-boiled eggs, and either anchovies or tuna, but never both.. Hard-boiled eggs were also added to the mix. This version of the salad has been the most widely accepted one. The salad has been worldwide known since the 1920s, and since then, has been added in many famous and renowned cookbooks and received different versions and variations. Many famous chefs and food writers have written recipes for the salad, including Daniel Boulud, Anthony Bourdain, Melissa d’Arabian, Hélène Darroze, Tyler Florence, Simon Hopkinson Robert Irvine, Gordon Ramsay, Nigel Slater Delia Smith, Martha Stewart Michael Symon and Alice Waters.
Beyond its amazing ingredients and storied past, the Niçoise Salad has evolved into a symbol of togetherness and community in Nice. This dish is shared among friends and family during festive gatherings, embodying the warmth and hospitality that define the Niçois way of life. The Niçoise Salad is more than a mere dish – it’s a celebration that bridges generations, an invitation to partake in local customs, and a sensory voyage into the heart of Nice’s cultural backgroung and worldwide famous history.
Also, seize the chance to uncover Nice’s culinary masterpieces independently or by reserving delightful sightseeing alternatives like our enthralling Secret Food Tour Nice. This ensures a convenient and enjoyable time for you and your companions with out the pressure of having to make all the plans and work on details while travelling. This tour leads you to an extraordinary voyage through the city’s most fascinating tastes, imparting the legends and stories behind each gastronomic creation. Enthusiastic local connoisseurs direct you along the way, granting a deep appreciation of the region’s culinary chronicles.
Encircled by the charisma of the French Riviera, Nice beckons you to embrace its enduring enchantment, captivating hospitality, and flourishing culinary wonders. Nice extends beyond being just a destination; it epitomizes an intriguing intersection of the past and long-held traditions, best experienced through wandering and savoring its local cuisine.
The Niçoise Salad signifies a delectable connection to this legacy, and the Secret Food Tour Nice is a key to unveiling the city’s magnificent gastronomic realm.