The Anchovy Toasts of Austin De Croze

Lou Pan Bagna

One of the first cookbooks I ever bought was a translated edition of Austin de Croze’s What to Eat and Drink in France (1931), a book dedicated to presenting France to gastronomic tourists as “a diamond with a thousand facets.”

This extraordinary book became the basis for my “Regions of France” festivals at Chez Panisse starting in 1973. For all regions anywhere near Provence we would spread this anchoiade on baguettes, bake them on trays of pine needles (making the kitchen smell like a fantasy Provençal farmhouse), and serve them piping hot to everyone as they first sat down.

The puree by itself is anchoiade, but spread on toast dipped in olive oil it is lou pan bagna or, translated from the Provençal, “bathed bread.”

This anchoiade bears very little resemblance to any other you will encounter, with its hint of Tunisia and perfumes of Moorish Andalusia. It’s better.

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Ingredients

  • 12 salted anchovies
  • 4 dried figs, stemmed
  • 1 tablespoon Pernod
  • 2tablespoons green Chartreuse
  • 2tablespoons whole almonds, lightly toasted
  • 1tablespoon walnuts, lightly toasted
  • 1 red onion, peeled, cored, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon each fresh thyme, tarragon,fennel seed
  • 1 red bell pepper, cooked as on
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 tablespoon orange flower water
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 baguette
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes

Method

Soak the figs in the Pernod and Chartreuse for 2 hours.

Put the remaining ingredients in a food processor and grind until the texture of whole grain mustard—smooth but not completely so, not like baby food.

Spread on olive-oiled bread and bake in an oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the sea salt and with red chili flakes, if you are in the mood, as I usually am.