Cuisine of Nice is very special and interesting. The city is between Provence and Italy. Today we’ll talk about ratatouille – assorted seasonal vegetables.
The first mention of the ratatouille comes to us from Nice and dates back to 1778. So this sunny city is the real homeland of this dish. Further it was spread to Provence.
Poor peasants cooked stew from seasonal vegetables. They mixed zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic and Provencal herbs. All this was cooked over low heat in olive oil. Later, eggplant was added to ratatouille. Initially, ratatouille was simply called a brew of vegetables and the meaning of the word was not always used in a positive sense. Rata is a military slang that meant stewed beans, potatoes, vegetables with very fatty meat. Most likely the recipe of ratatouille came to us from the military canteen. The dish is simple to prepare and inexpensive. Touiller in french means to stir.
The concept of seasonal stewed vegetables seems to be an integral part of Provence cuisine. Although it is difficult for us to believe it now, the ratatouille in the form in which we know it could hardly exist until the 16th century. After all, zucchini and tomatoes were imported from America only after the Great Geographical Discoveries. The eggplant was brought to Europe from India and was far from immediately used in cooking.
Many people learned about this dish, its recipe and serving thanks to the cartoon “Ratatouille“.
There are many variations on the ratatouille cooking. Different vegetables, different proportional combinations, different consistencies (sometimes you can even meet ratatouille more similar to soup). Ratatouille is also served in different ways. Cold and hot. It can be a separate dish, or it can accompany meat (beef and lamb are perfect) or fish, even fried potatoes and rice. Traditionally, vegetables are baked together. Baked vegetables retain more vitamins and are easier to eat. What time of day is for ratatouille?
There are no rules here either. Breakfast, lunch, dinner – for each meal there may be a place for a ratatouille. Sometimes ratatouille is sprinkled with grated Parmesan. Sometimes pesto sauce is added to it. The main thing is not to overdo the aroma and taste of vegetables and spices. The latter in the form of Provencal herbs play a very important role. They include rosemary, basil, thyme, sage, peppermint, savory, oregano and marjoram.
The ingredients are simple and healthy, it is not surprising that you can find similar dishes in other countries. So in Italy it is caponata, in Spain – pisto, in Hungary – lecsó. Despite the similarity of the ingredients, each country has its own characteristics and you can get completely different taste. After all, varieties of vegetables, spices, cooking methods also play a role.