BY SOFIA JOHN
Cuisine in southern France is unlike anything you’ll try in other parts of the country. Its rugged landscape just outside of Rhône Valley, combined with Mediterranean weather is great for growing sheep and goats but not so much for mass productions of agriculture due to dry soil. Food in Provence is built on olives, sardines, octopus, lamb, grapes, apricots, peaches and lots of other types of fruits.
To truly identify each and every kind of dish that symbolizes the Provence region will take a while, but if you’re in town for just a few days, here are five simple steps for you to dive right into local tastes. Make sure to couple every meal with a fantastic glass of local wine.
Calissons are traditional almond paste candies. It would be a challenge to spend any period of time in Provence with trying calissons. I was once offered calissons on three separate occasions in the span of two days. The people of Provence are very proud of this treat. You can find them at any local sweet shop.
This is obvious. You’re in France, eat a crepe. Now here’s the twist: after you eat the first crepe, eat another. Start with a savory crepe and follow with a sweet crepe. I know. It’s a brilliant plan, you’re welcome.
3. Anything with lavender
Among other things, Provence is well known for its production of lavender. If you get a chance, please visit the lavender fields in the country. The light smell of lavender in the air is worth the trip. You can also experience the lavender in some local treats. I have tried lavender nougat, lavender honey, and even lavender yogurt- so be sure to take advantage of an opportunity to taste this local gem.
4. Your own sandwich
Many Provençal towns have weekly open-air markets. They provide great opportunities to purchase local seasonal produce. The markets also tend to offer a wide variety of meats and cheeses. I recommend grabbing a baguette from your local boulangerie (French for “bakery”) and creating our own meal with some of the local goods. So French! So fun! Oh la la!
Caution upon trying to pronounce this – it is something like “boola-base”. Bouillabaisse makes the list because it is not necessarily delicious, but because it is an experience. This traditional favorite originates from Marseilles- it is a stew with at least ten types of fish. And no, it is not my favorite dish. And yes, once was enough for me. Bouillabaisse might not suit everyone’s tastes, but you don’t want to miss out on this cultural dish while in Provence.