Bread and Herbs

Authentic

Lovers of fine cuisine will tell you that no dish can succeed with this secret aromatic alchemy of herbs that is stirred into all the different Provençal sauces. Likewise, no meal is a success without bread. It’s an adage hat has been used in Provence for many years for this favoured partner of meals shared in the fields while its hardiness has come back into favour again.
Come discover the greats.

Whether it comes from a careful blend or simply a successful improvised effort, as the loyal allies to Provençal cooking, the herbs bring to it its full flavour. All it takes is a jaunt into the seaside coves or the hills above, or even just a stop in the many markets to find what makes Provence the most flavourful of
places.

Thyme, rosemary, savory, sage and bay leaf, or what is commonly known as « Herbes de Provence » or « fine herbs », as well as parsley, tarragon, chervil, chives, basil, which are minced up, all of them bring their subtle notes to even the simplest dishes.

Keeping traditions alive or bringing new flavours to modern recipes, they’ve always provided inspiration to accomplished chefs and brought happiness to gourmets. Aside from their gustative qualities, they are also recognised for their therapeutic and dietary virtues, and they are infused into or act as an ingredient in certain medications and pharmaceutical creams.

Either bread or nothing

It’s a part of every meal or it can be a meal in itself. Dribbled with olive oil, rubbed with garlic and embellished with tomato and anchovies, it becomes a delectable dish. As a sandwich with raw vegetables like the « Pan-Bagnat », a speciality from Nice, it’s all you need to satisfy any big appetite. This comes from bread’s qualities, which reside in its variety as well as its simplicity. Wheat, rye, or the distant ancestor, spelt, also known as « Gallic wheat », which today has been lauded for its numerous virtues, all of them can be one of the ingredients. Nutrition also plays a part in its virtues by revealing the benefits of these grains.

Along with the proverbial French baguette, at a Provençal table you can find classic types of bread made from old recipes that are again part of modern tastes. Rustic bread, olive bread, wheat, rye and sourdough bread, in various enjoyable shapes, its spirit comes from its diversity. Besides classic table bread, there are also other versions such as Fougasse flat bread or the ever-present Christmas-time speciality, « pompe à huile » (oil pump), a Provençal dessert enjoyed during the holidays.

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BREAD AND HERBS

Bouquet of herbs

Fragrances of the garrigue scrublands or freshly picked from the vegetable garden, herbs hold a key position in regional cuisine. You can also enjoy their fragrant accents in the markets. A quick tour of the herbs of Provence!

THE POWER OF PLANTS – MANE

A tour full of knowledge about plants from Antiquity to the present day. On this property that was once home to Benedictine monks, the enthobotanical garden exhibits the relationship between Haute-Provence and its plant environment. What absolutely can’t be missed: the garden of simple plants, which holds common pharmacopoeia plants , the garden of fragrances, where you can find aromatic and herbal plants, the orchard/ vegetable garden of Noria and the Medieval garden. Bookshop and boutique.
Prieuré de Salagon – 04300 Mane

BOTANICAL GARDENS OF CORDELIERS – DIGNE-LES-BAINS

This garden has tiles inspired by Medieval designs where you can discover three hundred species of wild and cultivated plants with culinary and medicinal qualities, displaying the plant heritage of our region. The herbal/aromatic plant garden contains both regional species as well as plants brought from other lands for their particular fragrances.
Jardin bitanique des Cordeliers – Place du Taupinet – 04000 Digne-les-Bains

LAVENDER, A FAMILY HISTORY – GORDES

The family history linked to this rare and beautiful plant, and also its conditions for cultivation, distillation, as well as its legend. A unique place where you can learn about the many virtues of lavender, discover collections of exceptional artefacts, and see documentary films in HD in the screening room. You will have first-rate knowledge of the mysteries of this beautiful blue plant!
Lavender Museum – 276 Route de Gordes – 84220 Cabrières-d’Avignon

RECIPE

PISTOU SOUP

  • A classic Provençal dish
  • 500 g flat green beans
  • 300 g white beans
  • 200 g red kidney beans
  • 4 courgettes, carrots and potatoes
  • 250 g large vermicelli pasta
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves, 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 bunch of basil
  • 100 g grated Parmesan Salt and pepper
Soupe au pistou

Soupe au pistou © Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock

Shuck the white and red beans and cut the green beans. Peel and dice the courgettes, carrots and potatoes. Soak the vegetables in salted water. Boil them for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Add the vermicelli pasta and cook for 15 minutes. With a mortar and pestle crush the garlic and basil leaves and drizzle the olive oil over them. Add the tomato pulp and the grated cheese. Add salt and pepper. Crush the mixture into a paste and add it to the pot. Let it simmer for several minutes and serve it very hot.