Monday, June 4, 2012

a French Adventure




Next week we are off on an adventure. We first head to Marseille to the Italian Embassy to pick up my “elusive” Italian passport --FINALLY! We will only be spending a day in Marseille as we have many more miles to travel after we get the passport. But we hope to get in a few of the sights of Marseille. Marseille is located on the southeast coast of France. It is where the Parisian’s go to holiday. It is nestled between the hills and the Mediterranean Sea and is the oldest city in France (2600 years old). Marseille is a city that has its own unique culture and is proud of its differences from the rest of France. We don’t live very far from this city, so although we only have time to spend one day here, we can always come back to revisit when we have the time. Our hotel is very close to the old port so we do plan to walk down there and (if it’s not too expensive) have a taste of the local dish; bouillabaisse.

Bouillabaisse is a traditional Proven├žal fish stew originating from Marseille. What makes a bouillabaisse different from other fish soups is not the fish, because all fish stews and soups have fish. It is the mixture of Proven├žal herbs and spices in the broth, the unique flavoring derived from saffron, fennel seeds, and orange zest that make the distinguishing characteristics of a Marseille bouillabaisse. Along with the herbs and spices the other difference is the use of bony local Mediterranean fish; the way the fish are added one at a time, in a certain order, and brought to a boil; and the method of serving. In Marseille, the broth is served first in a bowl containing the bread and rouille, with the seafood and vegetables served separately in another bowl or on a platter. I hope we get to taste it. But, it seems that in Marseille, bouillabaisse is rarely made for fewer than ten persons; the more people who share the meal, and the more different fish that are included, the better the bouillabaisse. So, we’ll see. It is said that Venus served bouillabaisse to her husband Vulcan in order to lull him to sleep while she consorted with Mars. Maybe Ian will think I’m up to something and suggest a nice safe dish of Coquilles Saint-Jacques.

After our short stay in Marseille we’ll be off to the north and west exploring (and in some cases, for Ian, re-visiting) the French country-side…our adventure holiday. We plan an extended stay in Cognac where we’ll get a chance to visit (and finally meet) our good friends Wendy and Chris Wise. We’ll be sure to take plenty of photos and video and keep you all updated via Facebook. For those of you not on Facebook, I’ll blog the trip as soon as I can.

On another note, I had planned to blog about my first experience seeing the running of the bulls here in my village. Since I went on and on about the trip we’re taking, I’ll blog about that at another time. It seems that it’s a regular event here in my village. In the meantime, please check out my Running of the Bulls video on Youtube (under TC Marzocca or click this link). The video is also posted at the top right side of my page. It’s only about 4 minutes long. I hope you enjoy it.


a la prochaine mes amis !!