19 August 2020

Garlic Provence


Please, treat your garlic with respect! - Anthony Bourdain, U.S. celebrity chef, author, travel writer

Above: ail rose from Lautrec

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If I had to pick one ingredient that embodies Provençal cuisine, I'd have to say, garlic. In France, the purple variety called ail rose or pink garlic from Lautrec (a village just an hour's drive from Toulouse) beckons from many a market stall. Provençal cuisine, with its liberal use of garlic, wild thyme and other herbs, lemons, peppers, anchovies, tomatoes, capers, olives and olive oil often gets compared to cuisines of southern Italy and parts of Spain, nearby regions that share an identical terroir.
 
We have French family in that region and one dish, a hearty sort of fish stew that emerges only on special occasions, would be incomplete without its aïoli on the side. My favorite, from Spain, is made by pounding garlic cloves into a smooth paste with coarse salt and a small amount of fresh lemon juice (is there any other kind?) in a stone mortar, then incorporating green olive oil little by little until everything magically emulsifies. No egg. French aïoli, which is what I usually make using a hand blender, is quicker and more like a mayonnaise. My mother-in-law's version uses mustard instead of lemon juice, salt, and an egg yolk; all vigorously mixed with a fork as olive oil is drizzled in, and when it reaches the right thickness, crushed garlic is added, but only at the end. BPJ

Below: garlic, almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts ready to be taken home and pounded into a pistou; already garlicky moules will be dunked into dill-laced (French style) lemon aïoli w/toothpicks as an apéritif


  
Tomorrow:
More Provence

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