December 14 will be National Bouillabaisse day- a day dedicated to that delicious slow cooked Provençal dish. And why not celebrate the third week in December? The perfect time for a hearty meal – right in the middle of winter.
Bouillabaisse had a humble beginning. It was once a one- pot meal created by fishermen who could not sell their fish to the restaurants around the port. They would cook the leftover fish, adding herbs, spices and vegetables all in a cauldron on an open fire. The recipe has been refined and revamped by clever chefs over the years and now the Provencal dish is one of the most complex expensive meals enjoyed by gourmets all over the world.
Chefs serve bouillabaisse in two parts. First, there is the thick spicy warming soup broth which you eat with croutons dipped in rouille, a garlicky mayonnaise. Then they present a variety of fish to their customers – usually five or six which they cup up before you.
Here are some interesting facts about bouillabaisse:
-- They say the name is derived from the method of preparation; the soup is first boiled (bolhir in Provençal) then simmered (abaisser) when the fish is added.
-- In 1980, a couple of restaurant owners around the port of Marseille created the 'Bouillabaisse Charter' so as to protect the traditional recipe. They felt that tourists weren’t getting the genuine dish and that tradition was being lost.
-- To make a real Bouillabaisse, you need at least 5 different fish.
-- Boillabaisse is quite different to a fish soup. You can use any fish for a fish soup whereas you need specific fish for this Provençal delight.
You don’t just decide to make a bouillabaisse; it takes planning and a reasonable amount of time but there are some good recipes these days. And above all don’t be in a hurry to eat—enjoy every moment.
Happy Bouillabaisse Day to food lovers everywhere.