Bouillabaisse from Provence
A Marseille specialty
For those of you that think Marseille is a somewhat scruffy, unpleasant place, just sit down in one of the restaurants along the Vieux Port and order a bouillabaisse. The most famous local seafood dish in town, it will soon change your mind about Marseille. In those restaurants that serve true bouillabaisse, you have to place your order the day before. L’Esplaï du Grand Bar des Goudes* is one of them – their bouillabaisse is out of this world.
Bouillabaisse, originally based on local fish, was the favorite dish of local fishermen. It usually included any fish that hadn’t sold at the fishermen’s daily market, with some local shellfish added in to the mix. It did not originally contain any of the expensive ingredients that are now added. More of a main dish then a soup, it is usually served with slices of bread that have been spread with the Provençal spicy garlic sauce, rouille.
The word bouillabaisse comes from the two French words bouillir (to boil) and abaisser (to reduce). There are various regional variations based on different local fish, and one will find the color will change from place top place depending on the different types of fish that are used. You can easily purchase the accompanying rouille sauce in any local supermarket.
Although quite time consuming to prepare, this Provençal dish is usually a hit when it comes to entertaining large groups of people. There are many, many variations on the bouillabaisse recipe, leading to much debate on the subject! In Marseille they use at least seven different kinds of fish, although some recipes call for only five kinds. Depending on where you live and what is available to you that day, your recipe may vary slightly, but as long as you follow the guidelines, your bouillabaisse is sure to be a success!
Here are a few recipes to consider, including one straight from the Marseille tourist office site (if you can decipher the broken English translation, this is probably your best bet!):
*L’Esplaï du Grand Bar des Goudes
28, rue Désiré-Pellaprat, 8th Arrondissement
Tel: 04 91 73 43 69
Visit our Wines of Provence section for suggestions on the Best wines to drink with Bouillabaisse.
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