#203 herbes de provence

Chicken & veggies come to life with this savoury mix of dried herbs considered typical of the hot summer months of the Provence region in southeast France.  Originally simply a descriptive term, commercial blends started to be sold under this name in the 1970s.  Often containing savory, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, oregano, & lavender in some North American products, the herb mixture is typically used with grilled foods & stews.

Provençal cuisine has traditionally used many herbs available in the region and, since the name herbes de Provence is generic and does not have Protected Geographical Status, there is no guarantee that any herb mixture on the market actually comes from Provence.  The popular region in France, which extends from the left bank of the lower Rhône River to the west to the Italian border to the east and bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the south, retains a distinct cultural & linguistic identity reminiscent of its Roman ancestry.

The region’s cuisine is the result of the warm, dry Mediterranean climate, the rugged landscape, and the abundance of seafood.  Aïoli, Bouillabaisse, Escabeche, Fougasse, & Ratatouille all have their origins in the region, and in addition to the food, the wines of Provence – probably introduced around 600 BC by the Greeks who founded Marseille & Nice – have had as recently as the 1970s a sour reputation of being rather ordinary, but with new technologies & methods have improved the quality considerably!

Whichever the wine choice of the night should be, this beautiful blend of dried herbs will transport you straight to the heart of the French countryside, where cooking pots slowly simmer to release delicious fragrances!  It’s a great addition to any dish from the Mediterranean region and is especially good mixed with olive oil to coat chicken, fish, tomatoes, or chunks of potato for roasting.  It’s also used for seasoning salads, sauces & cheeses, as well as soups & stews.  For a fairly standard mixture you can prepare at home, simply mix together:

  • 1 tablespoon of basil
  • 1 tablespoon of dried marjoram
  • 1 tablespoon of dried rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons of dried summer savory
  • 1 tablespoon of dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons of dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon of dried lavender flowers, optional
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