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Marseille bouillabaisse

Bouillabaisse is a traditional Provençal fish soup which is believed to have originated in the port city of Marseille, although it is prepared in every port from the coast of Provence. The bouillabaisse contains various kinds of cooked fish, shellfish and vegetables; flavored with different herbs and spices like garlic, orange peel, basil, bay leaf, fennel and saffron. A traditional bouillabaisse usually contains at least three types of fish: scorpionfish, sea robin and European conger. Sometimes a bouillabaisse may also include gilt-head bream, turbot, monkfish, mullet or silver hake. It also contains shellfish and other seafood like sea urchins, mussels, velvet crabs, spider crabs or octopus. The vegetables used are leeks, onions, tomatoes, celery and potatoes. The most distinguishing characteristic of a bouillabaisse is not the fish, because all fish stews and soups have fish, it is the unique flavoring derived from saffron, fennel seeds, and orange zest.

The apocryphal story of the origin of bouillabaisse, as it is told by the Marseillais, is that Venus served the bouillabaisse to her husband Vulcan in order to lull him to sleep while she consorted with Mars.

The Greek food writers claim that when the Phocaeans founded Marseilles in 600 BC, they brought with them a fish soup that was called kakavia and it was the base to the future bouillabaisse. Still there is no specific proof that such a soup was ever brought to the western Mediterranean. In the culinary writings of the ancient Greeks there are many mentions of boiled fish and a fish stew made with grayfish, herbs, oil, caraway seeds and salt, but there is no specific way of how it was cooked.

The most likely precursor to the bouillabaisse is an Italian fish stew described in an anonymous cookery book from the fifteenth century. There sardines and anchovies are boiled in vino greco with black pepper, saffron and sugar with a little olive oil. There is also the recipe of the matellotte du poisson that was published in 1790 which is also regarded as a relevant precursor to the modern bouillabaisse. However given the obviousness and simplicity of boiling fish it is hard to find an exact place where the bouillabaisse originated.

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Bouillabaisse Recipe,


Bouillabaisse recipe,