Restaurant La Presqu’ile, Cassis, France, 2013

When we ate at La Presqu’ile in Cassis, we had to call two days in advance to order bouillabaisse so that the chef could take the right fish from the fisherman and prepare it in time for our reservation. 

Bouillabaisse, a Provencal fish stew, originated in Marseille and is essentially a local dish. It emerged from a fisherman’s stew, made of leftover fish from the day’s catch and local ingredients. The traditional one includes at least five or six kinds of local fish and shellfish, primarily poisson de roche, which is a fish that swims around the rocks; eel; and crawfish or lobster. Other ingredients include tomatoes, garlic, parsley, saffron, bay, thyme, fennel, and orange zest. 

At the restaurant, we were served the rich broth that results from stewing the fish with the vegetables and reducing it substantially first, and then the fish over sliced, boiled potatoes. Both were accompanied by crusty bread and rouille, a peppery garlic mayonnaise, which can be used for spreading on the bread as well as thickening the broth.

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