En Français | In English | En español

Posts tagged ‘marseille’

End of August… Coco didledoo… the recipe of the real Provence Coco beans in anchovy cream and pesto

September 20th, 2009

Artichoke choc-choc? Aubergine gigine? no … the bean, the one and only “haricot”, precious jewel of the Provence cuisine, has the priviledge of being named “Coco”… In case you are craving for the recipe just zap directly to the end. Otherwise…cocofrais

It has scared many more people already : Brillat Savarin, “Curse on the coco beans, curse the swamp beans …” (the physiologie of taste)… dull Northeners as well… An authentic “a meal of vilain”, the fair accomplice of garlic, anchovy and basil… of the late summer… the glory of never ending sun sets… a salvo to the belated pending pink flamingoes of the Salins de Giraud, still asking to themselves if it is really necessary to go back to Africa… the comfort of an ending sunny day in the Calanques of Marseille, battered by the Mistral wind, which, without telling, could not refrain from casting some of the chilly North Sea in the Méditerranean, … COCO…

COCO is not only a perfume… it is the ultimate artifice of the Adonis festival, for which all spices are getting sharpened, ready for a whole week of complete licence, all five senses at their extremes… women, husband, as you please… the 15th of August, festival of the virgins… pleasure without procuration, without procreation… decadent Rome, elegant Rome. Adonis has never been considered exactly as a politicaly correct company… but all ends in a burst of COCO beans, bean heads, bean brains… to harrypotter?… no! “Haricoter” : in Auvergne, center of France, it stands for ” to tear apart a piece of lamb”, as well as “to caress lovingly a woman”… the Auvergnat traditional dish is “the  lamb haricot”… nothing to do with these poor fellows confined in their barracks, zealously left to their dry kidney beans . Same with the “Bean Hostal”; it used to be the nickname of the town prison and the “fayot” a bean head military who signs up for another go.

However in Catalogna, the fasting delicacy, is the mounjo, moungeta, moungete, mogett,… a nun… a nice little nunny; cant mistake with the COCO bean, can you? Although the “nun’s fart” is a standard traditional cake : an ivorish carnation under swelling veils, plumpy and generous, propitious to convert anybody. The Coco bean, on the contrary, is the poor man’s organ with it’s ever going exhalating happyness. Hilarious. Hi, that’s me. Take Five.

If Romans used it to put an end… to sublimate a whole week of orgie in order resume the everyday life… it is a Florentine woman, Catherine of Medicis, who made it famous. Her uncle of Pope, Clement the VIIth, former Jules of Medicis, has given monk Valeriano a sack of this COCO treasure, recently discovered in Peru, as dowry to Henri II and his queer court. The valeriane is a plant which excites cats, but make man sleep. The ecclesiastic canon Piero Valeriano was not exactly a wacky guy, but the plethorical germination of the coco bean truly made him jubilant; and indeed the multicolor jewels have been a real benediction for the famous sister of Alexander of Medicis.

“It was shown to me… a true little bean” Gasparine, Pot-Bouille, Zola, Nana… a dry bean lacks definitly the voluptuous curves, the almighty nude, love handed flesh of the cook bean. Worse, today’s master word is lean, quick, slim, slender… the GREEN bean has become the “New Look”, modern times’ credo, a boaring belief that turns women into fleshless anemic poor things.

“So let us seed until it is still time to,

Cause the bean song is one of the shortest”

Sings Georges Guétary in  Florished Road of Francis Lopez. Olé! Besitos.

The Recipe :

Ingredients : coco beans, veggies, spices, and an anchoiade base (anchovy paste).

Options : poutargue or basil, make your choice.

A piece of advice : to be prepared before going to bed for the next day.

Onion sofrito with garlic and veggies : On Arles’ market we have organic “Thai aubergines”, “snake zucchinies”, ” Royal Thai basil with citronnella at the Laosian stand. aubergine thaiYes we are lucky. The sofrito, always with olive oil. May I remind you that the best olive oil in France is the one of Montfrin castle, gold medal 2006&2008 of the general agriculture competition, distilled by the great Jean René de Fleurieu … excellent.sofrito coco

The coco bean does not mingle with the mediocre. When the sofrito is done : throw the beans. Water, the less calcar possible. Cover, cuddle. slight fire, inexistant, protct it fro the flames with thick diffuser. At a slight boil, you have the shakes. Stop. The best is to use a thick iron pot to keep the heat longer and slow.  Slowly my sweety coco.  It is 3 O’clock in the morning, turn off everything. Cover. Next morning, you release the cover. Yummy. What a nice day. Give a little heat. Not too much.

Back in the evening . The serious job starts: according to your mind,  crush a handfull of basil, or lard micrometric slices of Poutargue, the dry fish row from Martigues. Once your spirits recovered, grab a sauce pan, crushed garlic and olive oil. Put the juice of the coco with a Mexican chipotle chile.

Now the anchovy paste: dilute and emulsionate in the sauce. It will be the salt of your COCOs. Off the fire. A big breath and when you feel it is not too warm anymore mix 2/3 of the fresh basil or the poutargue. Serve while spreading the remaining 1/3. (without eating the poutargue hiding, bean head…)coco pret

Sorry I could not refrain…

The original Bouillabaisse: nowhere else, in Marseille, Mediterranea, “Med” in France

July 29th, 2009

soupe-poissonLa BOUILLABAISSE des Calanques de Marseilles

Boui Abaisso, the boiling soup, low on the warm cinders,

or Boui Peis, fish soup in Provençal; Bullit de Peis in Ibicenco…

Boui, Abaisso!, It boils, you dip the fish… the true solution, with the accent, please.

But fish is expensive and rare… the delicate abbess, queen of the art, praised by Joseph Mery, the gastronom poet from Marseille in XIX° century, friend of Dumas and of the Goncourt, used to say :

” Nothing should be more expensive, in this life; after this,

Nothing more expensive than a marble stone, with four cypresses.”

So, before the poem, we need to do

A serious coulis, as foreword too,

Of hundred little fish, from this morning,

swiftly slowly on a smokeless fire distilating,

A liquid treasure and fragrant broth;

Here then will come and melt, delicatly,

All needed for the aroma and flavor, spicy :

Sprigs of saffron, a bunch of fenel,

Pepper from Lebanon, crackling laurel,

Salt, the friend of man, and the delicious urchins,

That our dear Arenc feed his bassin.

When the foam is simmering on this immense coulis,

Coocked to its’ point, the poem starts, Si !

To this Phocean treat, accomplished indeed,

Indispensable, and  before all, we need

The Rascass, fish, of the most vulgar;

Alone on a grill, it is just good for the mortar,

But in the bouille-abaisse, it suddenly spreads

Marvellous flavour which goes to our heads.

The rascass fed on the bunches of syrtles,

In the bays covered with laurel and myrtles,

Or just under a rock of flowers of thym,

Bringing all perfumes to the table of this festin.

Then the fish away from the harbour, at a distance

In the depth of the reefs, the red mullet for instance

The delicate Pagel, the john dory suculant,

Favorite game of the sea bass, the arrogant,

Last, the galinette, with its eyes of old dogs,

And many more, forgotten by the ichtyologues,

Fine fish for which Neptune, in his flaming sky,

Leaves the trident for the fork, not a bit shy

Frivolous travellers and juges illegitimate,

For a 60 cent bouille-abaisse, never be candidate;

Go to the Chateau Vert, order a supper;

Say : ” I want a good meal, the best for the upper;

send the divers in the marine rocks, deep,

To ravish my senses with the perfume, divine and sweet;

Serve yourself with parangre of the Romans and from the Greeks, the thyse ,

Tomorrow is another day; hush dont tell the price ! “

Le Gourmet – Joseph Méry (1798-1866) – translation by lesfoodingues


Firm meat fish : spiny lobster, the strange cicada, the rare red gambas, the galinette, the gurnard, the weever, the vaudreuil and the monk fish, conger, fielas and all sorts of crabs…

the delicate meat fish : the whiting, the sea bass, the roucaou, red mulet, mulet, john dory…

Scale and clean them  (except the red mullet, the wood cock of the sea and all the crustaceous) lay the two kind of fish on separate plates.

sofritoIn a wide pan, a sofrito : 5 fresh onions chopped with their herbs; a whole garlic, two tomatoes, thyme, wild fenel, a dash of absynthe, a leaf of laurel, flat parsley, orange or citrus peels (use the iranian dried limes if you dont have fresh organic ones). A good chile ancho, negro or pasilla from Oaxaca, Mexico.

Pour all the fishing of the day, small rock fish with no ceremony, except a glass of pastis for yourself. Once the soup ready, first cook the firm flesh fish and then the delicate flesh, each time adding a spoon of olive oil and bringging to a boil to emulsify. Serve one fish at a time and share it with your friends. At the end serve the broth.


Put a toasted bread piece rubbed with garlic on the side of the plate, put one piece of firm flesh fish and one piece of delicate flesh fish on its side. A cup of soup some parsley and serve.

Dont forget your glass of pastis or Casanis on the side of the furnace, as you might dry up more quickly than the fish…

Two important things: the diversity fo the rock fish and the ad hoc timing for each fish (a monk fish has not the same timing as the john dory…)

soupe-haricots1Third essential point : olive oil, garlic and broth ; the three elements which allow the perfect emulsion, garlic providing the tensio activ mollecules for the perfect texture. The true bouillabaisse requires quite some garlic and olive oil to succeed.

Tonight in total intimity we decided to dedicate a simple homage to the small fish fished just under our cabin in the Calanques de Marseille this morning. As we did not fish any big ones (see we are not always boasting in Marseille…) we remplaced them with the stupendous red coco beans, cooked slowly during hours in onions and chile pasilla from Oaxaca. We also replaced the garlic rubbed bread with Sare fish fillets fished and BBQed the day before, which we spread with garlic…

Sorry you cannot eat this in a restaurant; though if you find it in a restaurant tel me and I will rush there immidiatly.