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5 must-try delicacies in the south of France

Moeena Halim
Moeena HalimMay 28, 2016 | 14:22

5 must-try delicacies in the south of France

Every May, Cannes becomes the talk of tinsel town for cinematic and sartorial reasons alike. But there's more to southern France than its annual film festival.

In Cote D'Azur or the French Riviera, limestone mountains meet the azure blue Mediterranean Sea creating a breathtaking landscape. No matter where you are along the southern coast of France, the view is undeniably beautiful, its links to ancient history palpable and the food most certainly worth writing home about.

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From Provencal barbecue grills to great local bakeries, South of France has many a perfect mouth-watering treat.

At local bakeries, always ask if they've got fresh pain au chocolat (a flakey bread with flecks of chocolate). But then again, that's a thumb-rule I'd follow anywhere in France; just as I would for a no-fuss baguette (perfect with a generous layer of some Grand Fermage Sel de Mer, a deliciously creamy butter dotted with crystals of sea salt). 

To try something truly Provencal, you could also ask for fougasse - a local bread that is sometimes sculpted into various shapes including an ear of wheat. You'll find artisanal ice-cream stalls all over the place in Provence. These are worth making a stop at even on a not-so-sunny day; I'd recommend going for a scoop of pistachio.

Here's a list of five other foods I thoroughly enjoyed during my stay in the Cote D'Azur.

Pissaladière

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Pissaladière.

A flakey tart-like crust is loaded with a thick layer of caramelised onions, which is then topped sparingly with a few black olives and anchovies. This Provencal version of the pizza is believed to predate the Neapolitan delicacy. Because it uses no tomatoes or any other "New World veggies", locals argue that the pissaladière is what inspired the eventual creation of the pizza as we now know it.

Merguez

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Merguez is to the Provencal barbecue grill what hot dogs are to the America.

"Merguez, the spicy North African lamb sausage, is to the Provencal barbecue grill what hot dogs are to the American," writes Georgeanna Brennan in A Pig in Provence: Good Food and Simple Pleasures in the South of France. Grilled and served with a dollop of mayonnaise between a baguette, I did indeed savour the merguez as a sort French Algerian cousin to the hot dog.

Soupe de poisson

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Soupe de poisson is now a widely enjoyed delicacy.

Traditionally made with the trimmings of white fish, soupe de poisson (fish soup) was once the food of the fishmongers but is now a widely enjoyed delicacy. You could save a few bucks by buying glass bottles of the soup from the supermarket, but don't forget to buy the accompaniments. The slightly tart, creamy mayonnaise-like rouille is essential, as are the crispy croutons.

Tarte Tropezienne

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Tarte Tropezienne is a buttery brioche with a delicious custard-like cream filling.

Created in 1955 by Polish chef Alexandre Micka in Saint Tropez, the cake is a buttery brioche with a delicious custard-like cream filling topped generously with crunchy sugar crystals. The Brigitte Bardot film And God Created Woman was shot not far from Micka's pastry shop and it is said that the tarte became quite a favourite with the actress. It is now available even at supermarkets as a cake for six or in miniature individual portions.

Fresh house-made pasta

Yes, I put pasta on my list of French foods. Much of the southern France, including Nice, has a very palpable Italian influence and it isn't hard to find a restaurant that dishes out delicious, freshly made pasta-something I can seldom say no to.

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Local bakeries and cafes are ubiquitous to the French Riviera.

Last updated: May 28, 2016 | 14:22
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