This popular Provencal dish often springs to mind when one thinks of classic, French delicacies; ratatouille – or ratatouille niçoise – was originally created in Nice. Its name derives from ‘touiller’, which is French for ‘stir’ or ‘toss’.
Cooking methods and ingredients vary, but the stewed vegetable dish generally marries herbs de Provence, bay leaves and garlic with tomatoes, courgette, aubergine and onions.
Ratatouille is often served as an accompaniment to meat, though it can also be enjoyed with pasta, rice or a crusty French baguette – and a glass of wine, of course!
Soupe au Pistou
Another Provencal classic is a warming bowl of Soupe au Pistou. The French bean soup resembles minestrone and is made primarily with pistou; a garlicy sauce made with fresh basil and olive oil, which is added to the dish before Gruyere cheese is then melted gently on top of the soup.
Socca is a speciality, Provencal pancake and a delicious staple of Nice’s street food. Made with chickpea dough and cooked on a cast iron pan, this warm snack is best eaten straight out of the oven. The perfect, socca is crispy on the outside and soft and doughy in the middle – you are bound to find plenty of food stalls and markets serving them fresh in traditional, paper cones.
Despite traditionally being thought of as a peasant’s meal, Daube remains a firm favourite in the south of franc – particularly in the winter months. The Provencal stew is typically made with beef – though lamb can also be used. The meat is braised in red wine with herbs de Provence, vegetables and, of course, garlic. If you are in Nice, you may stumble upon raviolis à la daube, this more modern twist sees ravioli stuffed with the braised meat – both versions are delicious!
Best enjoyed slowly and in the sun – what better time to try pastis than on the French Riviera? This aniseed liqueur was invented in Marseille to replace absinthe and has remained a popular aperitif in the South of France for the best part of a Century. Don’t be alarmed if you see your server add water to your tipple, as this dilution is what turns the amber liqueur into its recognisable, milky colour.
What are your favourite foods or drinks to enjoy in the French Riviera?