Windows on Provence
Of the great regional cuisines of France, provençal cooking is probably the one with the strongest personality. It's a spicy mediterranean cuisine of bold, clean flavours, using garlic, local herbs such as thyme, basil and fennel and substituting olive oil for butter in cooking. The cooking is wonderfully varied - a blend of the traditions of mountain people and fishermen, and draws on local produce - fish of all kinds, game and a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables in season - particularly artichokes, asparagus, aubergines and tomatoes.
On and near the coast, fish holds pride of place. Bouillabaisse, star of the provençal kitchen, is a delicious garlicky stew made from various rock and shellfish, potatoes and saffron. Inland, meat predominates and lamb from Sisteron, has a fabulous aromatic flavour which comes from grazing on wild herbs on the upland pastures. And in country areas, you're always likely to see boeuf en daube on the menu - a hearty stew cooked slowly in red wine and vegetables. And delicious dishes like ratatouille, pissaladiere and soupe au pistou - originally from Nice - are now found across the region. Bon appetit!