The Gourmet's New Eldorado
Not just a pretty face...
It had all but disappeared from the markets, but then – perhaps as a result of Halloween arriving in France – squash made a big comeback on our stalls just over a decade ago. Behind this generic name lies the entire cucurbit family (pumpkin, marrow, butternut, turban squash, gourd and calabash), plus - to satisfy botanists - representatives of the Cucurbita pepo family, which includes courgettes. The finest specimens are found in winter on our market stalls from Cassis on Wednesdays and Fridays to Place Richelme in Aix on Saturdays mornings, or the Cours Julien farm market on Wednesdays in Marseille.
From the Crookneck to the Tromboncino, Marina di Chioggia or Blue Hubbard, you'll come across some rare and mysterious varieties, so enjoy and don't hesitate to ask our growers for their precious tips and tricks on how to prepare them!
The local AMAPs (associations for supporting small farmers) are joining in too and their weekly baskets are a good reminder that there's nothing quite like a winter squash. To help customers prepare them, the AMAPs are also happy to give advice and will often slip a recipe sheet into their baskets…
Children love squash: "It's creamy, soft and doesn't taste strong", explains Timothy. "It's sweet like a carrot and has a texture similar to sweet potato", continue his mother Florence, an inhabitant of Puyricard.
The coolest tips and tricks
Squash has more than one string to its bow and as it turns out, is super easy to cook. Prepare a mash using equal quantities of potato and butternut squash, add some chopped chives for colour, butter or cream, a bit of grated cheese and voilà! "I use spaghetti squash or Nice squash for my vegetable spaghetti", says Andrée, who has converted her husband Léon to the charms of this naturally low-calorie veg…
And how about trying out the coolest recipe of them all? Select a small squash, wash it and cut off the top carefully so you can re-use it. Carve out the flesh, remove the pips and stringy pieces. Mix in a bowl with full-fat cream, Gruyère cheese and season with salt, pepper and grated nutmeg. Fill up the hollowed-out squash, cover with its hat and bake for 1¼ hours at 180°C. It's pretty, you can't get it wrong and all the family will love it with a green salad and a few lardons.
"Her godmother scooped it out to a hollow skin, then tapped it with her wand, and the pumpkin was instantly turned into a beautiful gilded carriage".
Charles Perrault – Cinderella
If you're watching your figure, it's best to steam your squash before baking so it absorbs less fat. Keep in mind that oil is best for browning, while butter will burn. "It's a miracle product", enthuses Florence. "I can store whole squash for several weeks without even having to refrigerate it."
And what about gourds? They aren't edible but they are very decorative. Buy them in various sizes and colours to make a pretty platter to adorn your kitchen table or windowsills – they will keep for months if they are protected from the damp. Decorative, delicious and easy to cook and keep... As if we didn't know it already, squash really does have everything going for it!
Le Grand Pastis offers a picture-postcard portrait of gourmet Provence. Pierre Psaltis shares his conception of gastronomy, from the simplest to the most sophisticated, presents his tasted-and-approved recipes, uncorks the finest vintages and invites you out to dinner... A concentrate of news, spiked with the inimitable local accent.
Whether it's served hot with a salad, used to crown a cheese platter, or savoured fresh with honey or olive oil, goat's cheese is an absolute culinary must. Provence's dry, sunny climate is perfect for goat breeding -and that's lucky for us!
A gourmet treat…
Provence has been famed for its candied fruit from time immemorial. In the early 16th century, the region was fairly impoverished. Fruit grew here in abundance, but much of it was lost every year.
In a sauce or salad, red is the colour!
Not having qualifications doesn't mean your life is ruined
Can anyone resist an almond? Everyone raves about these little nuggets of happiness you can savour every which way – fresh, dried, whole, grilled, sliced, ground or made into a cream or milk!
It all starts with a crushed clove...
Provencal cuisine simply wouldn't exist without garlic
Francis lived happily close beside his tree...
Picked ripe from the tree, figs are simply to die for. They can also be scattered on trays and left to dry in the sun for 3 days: "That's the best way to keep your figs all winter – we serve figs at Christmas as one of Provence's famous 13 Desserts," smiles Jacqueline Honoré.
A story that will make you turn to jelly...
As yellow as sunshine and as warm as a winter fireplace... The quince isn't very pretty, but the people of Provence love it. You could even say that a passion has been born between this irregular-shaped fruit, somewhat resembling a dented, rustic pear and our lovers of jams, jellies and pastes.
When we talk about the South of France, what's the first thing we think of? The MEDITERRANEAN SEA! (and the sun of course – it's all part of the package).