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Digital Subscriptions > delicious. Magazine > November 2018 > Provence’s capital shines once more

Provence’s capital shines once more

The ancient southern French city of Marseille has long been overshadowed by the glitz of Cannes and Nice but, as Kathryn Tomasetti discovers, the rich mix of the city’s food heritage is turning it into a must-visit destination – and the run-up to Christmas is a special time to visit
Marseille’s Vieux Port below Notre- Dame de la Garde

While the UK was gearing up for the festive season, I was flying to Marseille to squeeze the last bit of warmth out of 2018 and for a crash course in the city’s food history. Two thousand years ago the Romans planted vineyards here, securing a reputation for flinty whites. Centuries later, the region’s popes opted for red, planting grapes at Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Today pink is all the rage, with 80 per cent of the Côtes de Provence vineyards abutting the city producing rosé wine.

As my jet turned toward Aéroport Marseille Provence we skimmed over the Camargue wetlands where Provence’s prized fleur de sel (sea salt) is harvested. Expect to find it scattered on beef steaks which come from the wild bulls that still roam the Rhône delta, often paired with the nutty red Camargue rice grown nearby.

I caught a glimpse of Marseille’s Vieux Port during the final runway approach. When Paris was just a hamlet – as far back as the 4th century BC – this vast harbour was already trading with the world. Seasonal favourites, such as dates and blood oranges, entered continental Europe centuries later through the city’s port, as (probably) did modern staples such as tomatoes and bananas, brought from the New World. During the last century a million migrants sailed in from Algeria, Senegal, Vietnam and Brazil. I touched down at a crossroads of culture, anticipating a melting pot of cuisine. My first whiff of Marseille didn’t disappoint.

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About delicious. Magazine

Buy the November issue of delicious. magazine and celebrate our 15th birthday along with Michel Roux Jr, Henry Harris, Gill Meller, Tom Aiken, Mary Berry, Anna Del Conte and Annie Rigg. Eric Lanlard cooks a birthday cake, of course and everyone’s in the party mood with our simple cocktails and top wine recommendations. Find out which cookbook most inspired Nigella, Rick, Yotam, Prue and more. Plus, it’s not too early to start thinking about Christmas – see our gift guide for brilliant gift ideas and pick your favourite get-ahead Christmas bakes.