My provencal kitchen
The MARKET ALONG THE PAILLON
Early summer - baby broad beans and peas
How pleasant it was to stroll along the left bank of the river Paillon during the first days of summer! The market began behind the Municipal Casino and continued for nearly a kilometre, a mass of colour and freshness under the plane trees. Many an old granny, faithful to a life-time of convivial market life, would chat patiently behind a single cageot* of fresh wild salad, or mesclun, a mixture, refreshingly bitter and tonic.
The Casino has been demolished to make way for gardens and fountains, the erratic river has been covered and the markets have moved elsewhere. But the first days of summer are still magic, even though it is rare nowadays to see the peasants coming down from the hills around Nice, with their home-grown vegetables, hens, rabbits and fresh eggs, as they used to do.
Fêvettes en salade - Young beans in salad
Freshly picked baby broad beans can still be found, tender and ready to be thrown raw into a salad of chopped beet-root, hard-boiled eggs, tuna and finely sliced onion.
Ragoût aux fêves - Broad bean stew
Bigger broad beans, still green and tender, can be used for this old Niçois dish. Olive oil is gently heated. Add sliced onions and petit salé*. When golden, throw in peeled and sliced potatoes. Cook for several minutes, gently turning before adding shelled broad beans. The mixture is covered and cooked very slowly, with frequent stirring to prevent sticking. A little water can be added as necessary, along with salt, pepper, a bouquet garni and a clove of garlic. Continue slowly until the vegetables are thoroughly cooked but not mushy.
* Petit salé : salt pork, similar to bacon, sometimes smoked.