A short distance from my Marseille hotel, Hôtel la Résidence du Vieux-Port, I took a walk through the Marseille Fish Market. Boat after boat docked at Quai des Belges on Marseille’s Old Port just after 8 in the morning.
With boats bobbling, fishermen handed their catches, some in plastic baskets others in nets, to their wives who put the Mediterranean fresh catches on display. Some fish were familiar like swordfish, flounder, grouper, lobster and sea stars while most were odd looking creatures I’ve probably tasted but cannot identify. I watched as some seafood sellers cleaned the fish using an assortment of tools dependent upon the type of fish. This ranged from delicate fillet knives to what looked to be mini saws. The market is open 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. daily.
Bouillabaisse a Le Miramar Restaurant
Both residents and area restaurants shop the fish market for fresh boat-to-market-to-table seafood. A popular dish on local restaurant menus using fresh seafood from the market is bouillabaisse. I had the chance to taste it for the first time at Le Miramar Restaurant located only steps away from the fish market.
Bouillabaisse originated in Marseille and is a fish stew prepared with fresh seafood caught and served the same day. Specific recipes vary but it’s said an authentic Marseille bouillabaisse must include the following three fish: a bony rockfish called rascasse, European conger and sea robin.
The way Chef Christian Buffa of La Miramar Restaurant served it was the bouillabaisse first (find the recipe on the eatery’s website). It was more like a deep red broth than a soup and I was instructed to add as much tomato paste as I liked along with thin slices of crisp bread rubbed with fresh garlic. Following the bouillabaisse came a mountain of seafood dominated with fish, mussels and a crab with potatoes in a fish broth.
The multi-course meal included a pate-like dish and two desserts, a small one – which would have been plenty and an over-sized wine glass filled with strawberries and what seemed like fresh whipped cream. The beverage of choice is a rosé wine which is dry and fruity, not like sweet blush wines. The Provence region has been producing wine for more than 2,500 years.
Here’s a quick video from the Marseille Fish Market.
The road, or shall I say a plane, recently led me to Marseille-Provence, 2013 European Capital of Culture as a guest of Atout France and their tourism partners. This is the one in a series of several posts about this trip to France. Follow the conversation on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #visitmp2013.