Thursday, August 11, 2005

Made in Marseille: Cookbook Review

In one breath Marseille is described as a glorious place with real culture and the best seafood in the world, in the next it's sadly a gang and drug ridden slum. Located in Provence, a region famous as the place where Parisians take their Summer holidays. Provence mirrors California in climate, and in the wine, the olives, tomatoes, basil, lavender and bountiful seafood that make it such a delicious destination.

Perhaps reading about rosé in the new book Rosé A Guide to the World's Most Versatile Wine that I reviewed yesterday made me think about Summer food and the cooking of Provence; a region where the author spent a good deal of time. Or maybe it was buying a bottle of rosé from France that made me want to travel to Marseille in my kitchen.

Fortunately I have the perfect book for such exploration Made in Marseille Food and Flavors from France's Mediterranean Seaport. This book has old and newer recipes to excite the senses. Strong flavors of Summer shine in the traditional pistou, a cousin to the Italian pesto that contains Gruyere and fresh tomatoes in addition to basil, garlic, olive oil and parmesan.

Uncomplicated twists on basic recipes in this book will jazz up your Summer repertoire. A fennel stuffed salmon fillet with onion jam, the tuna tartare with fresh herbs and even the eggplant and tomato stew "la bohemienne" all make my mouth water in anticipation.

Some of the recipes are adapted from restaurants but others are much more homestyle fare like the Provence style sardine spread made from canned sardines, fresh basil, milk, white bread,and a splash of lemon and olive oil. And to round things off, no fewer than eight recipes for bouillabaisse. The stories behind each recipe will take you as close to Marseille as you can get without leaving home.