French Riviera is known abroad thanks to the Cannes Festival or thanks to the casinos in Monaco. You may also know it for the sea and the sky. But, I would say it is the superficial part of this place.
Some of the towns on the French Riviera are some of the oldest of France and Europe : they were founded by the Greeks in the antiquity or before the greeks by some other less known civilizations (Ligures for instance).
So, there is a long history and some traditions. Food is one important part of this history. But, this post is not about history. I won't try to check if a meal has been invented in Nice or Antibes or somewhere else. I just want to focus on the typical meals of the town of Nice and around it. Also, I am not expert at Niçoise food. But I hope I'll avoid the biggest mistakes.
Let's start with the most famous abroad and I'll end with the most famous in Nice.
It is famous thanks to the Pixar movie. There are lots of mix of vegetables around the mediterranean sea but the ratatouille is really specific to the Nice area. Ratatouille is mainly containing tomatoes, zucchinis, eggplants, bell peppers. For the details, you'll have to look at a recipe.
2. Salade Niçoise / Pan Bagnat
You can easily find Salade Niçoises anywhere in France but generally they are not the true one. There are *NO* cooked vegetables in a true Salade Niçoise. A Salade Niçoise is containing tomatoes, bell peppers, anchovies, tuna, olives from Nice and many other ingredients that I don't know how to translate in English.
A Pan Bagnat (literally bathed bread in the language spoken in Nice) is similar to a Salade Niçoise between two circular slices of wet bread : wet with lot of olive oil. The ingredients are not totally the same as the ones in the Salade Niçoise.
You can find similar meals around the mediterranean sea. It is like a pancake of chickpea flour.
In Italy, they have the Pizza. Pissaladière is thicker than a Pizza and the topping is made of caramelised onions, olives, garlic and anchovies.
5. Tourte de Blette
It is a dessert made with chard and pine nut !
It is quite common around the mediterranean sea : stuffed and grilled vegetables.
7. Beignets de fleurs de courgette
Common in provence and Italy. It is a beignet of the flower of Zucchinis.
8. Soupe au pistou
The Pistou is a sauce made of olive oil, garlic and fresh basil. In Italy, they add pine nuts and call this pesto. The Soupe au pistou is a soup whose base is pistou and which is containing standard vegetables from Nice : tomatoes, potatoes ...
It is the most famous meal from Nice. You can find some in the old town in Nice. It is a ragout of Haddock (but not smoken Haddock and not cod) with standard vegetables found in Nice : olives, potatoes, tomatoes ... And lot of olive oil ... a near invariant in food from Nice. The haddock has been dried that's why another name for this meal is stockfish.
10. There is more
I have just covered the surface. The gastronomy of Nice is much richer than that. Nice is one of the few cities in France that can be said to have its own cuisine.
I have not written the recipes because it is too much work to translate them into English. If you look for them on the web you'll unfortunately may find wrong recipes ! The best is to buy a book in Nice and read French. I may add a few recipes in an update of this post in the future.
The pan bagnat photo is from Nice Rendez Vous with authorization from the author. This photo is *NOT* covered by the Creative Common License of this blog. You need to contact the site if you want to use it.
The 'Tourte de blette' photo is from the blog MYSTÈRES ET BOULES DE PÂTE with authorization from the author. This photo is *NOT* covered by the Creative Common License of this blog. You need to contact the site if you want to use it.
Other photos are from Wikipedia and covered by the Wikipedia Creative Common License (same remark for the license).