The most popular soup in Provence.
This dish is native to ancient Greece, from the time of the founding of Marseille (Massalia) to the seventh century before. The population was eating a simple fish stew called ‘kakavia’, in ancient Greek, from unsold fish brought back by the fishermen.
The current Provencal bouillabaisse is made with fish cooked in a court-broth of water or white wine, with garlic, olive oil, or saffron.
Did you know ? “When it boils, you go down! “. This formula is at the origin of the name bouillabaisse. Let’s start this story by the origin of the name. “When it boils you down” … the cooking fire of course. It is from this old Provençal expression that the name of bouillabaisse comes to us. Originally, bouillabaisse is a dish of modest origin. It was the fish soup of the fishermen of the creeks between Marseilles and Toulon. When they returned from fishing, they heated a cauldron filled with sea water at the edge of the water. As soon as the water boiled, the fishermen would cook the unmarketable fish (headless, damaged …). When the cooking was over, the broth was poured over croutons of stale bread rubbed with garlic: this was called the croutons’ tour. We then shared the fish that we ate with rust or aioli. It was the bouillabaisse of fishermen.
But, the story is not over.
This fishermen’s soup has been improved over time to fit into the “bourgeois kitchen”. The sea water has been replaced by a fish stock made with rock fish (fish living on the bottom of the sea). After boiling the bottom of rock fish, fish traditionally used by fishermen were added to prepare bouillabaisse. The rich bouillabaisse was born. It’s the one that continues today.
The bouillabaisse is a fine and subtle dish, the fish that compose it must be extremely fresh and just cooked to keep their shapes, their consistencies and their flavors.
The bouillabaisse was imitated, ape, copied to such an extent that a charter of bouillabaisse was established by the restaurateurs in 1980. It determines the recipe, the fish to be used and the special service in the room. According to the charter, the bouillabaisse of Marseille must include at least 4 species among the following: scorpionfish, white scorpionfish, spider (live), galinette (red mullet), saint-pierre, monkfish (monkfish), conger or scorpene. For the anecdote know that Marcel Pagnol, French writer and filmmaker born in Aubagne, a big anger when he realized that this simple original dish was accommodated with lobsters, shrimps or even mussels.
The bouillabaisse is also accompanied by a sauce: rust and crusts rubbed with garlic. You know now almost everything about the bouillabaisse, you know at least enough, not to choose the pale and bland copies.