Appears in
Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

bouillabaisse the best known of a large number of Mediterranean fish soup/stew dishes, which include the Greek Kakavía and the Catalan Suquet, is associated particularly with Marseilles. An essay by Davidson (1988b) deals with its history and the technique for making it, prefaced by this account of its distinguishing characteristics:

  • the dish requires a wide variety of fish, including rascasse (see scorpion fish), some fish with firm flesh (to be eaten) and some little ones (to disintegrate into the broth), and maybe some inexpensive crustaceans (small crabs, cigales de mer, etc.);

  • onions, garlic, tomatoes, parsley are always used—and saffron too (though this item is costly);

  • the liquid used consists of water (some white wine is optional) and olive oil, a mixture which must be boiled rapidly;

  • the fish (i.e. the ones to be eaten, not the ones which disintegrate) are served separately from the broth, which is poured over pieces of toasted bread (of which there is a special sort at Marseilles for the purpose).