Meet Ann Mah, an author, writer and blogger currently living in Paris. I have long admired Ann’s writing, ever since I read her first book, Kitchen Chinese. I soon became a regular visitor on her blog, on which she chronicles her life in Paris and around the world. Her writing has been featured in the New York Times, Condé Nast Traveler, the International Herald Tribune and many other renowned publications. Ann also has a new book coming out in the spring of 2013 called Mastering the Art of French Eating, a quest to travel through France and discover the country’s best regional dishes. Here’s Provence, in her own words.
Provence. For six years, my life has been enriched by summer holidays in Provence. I love the sharp light, the intense heat, the scent of lavender that drifts through the windows of our rental car. But most of all I love the produce, the markets that spill with bright-skinned, sun-warmed fruits and vegetables, the speckled beans and mint-scented tomatoes, the bouquets of basil and fuzzy stone fruits (best eaten, dripping, over the sink). The markets rotate every day through the region’s villages, so in the morning I like to explore different hill-top towns with my wicker basket in hand. Afternoons are spent by the pool. And in the evening, when the light begins to soften, it’s time to drink chilled rosé and cook all the beautiful things I purchased in the morning.
My Favorite Dish
Soupe au pistou. It seems so simple, just a vegetable soup, kind of like minestrone, nothing special. But a few years ago, I helped cook soup for over 200 people, for the annual summer fête in Bonnieux, the village where we used to stay. The best soupe au pistou is made with summer’s bounty of shell beans, courgettes, tomatoes, green beans — all grown locally. It’s laced with pistou, the Provençal version of pesto, which marries the vegetables and scents them with a heady perfume. I rose before dawn to help a team of intrepid volunteers chop and peel over 200 pounds of vegetables — it was an experience that forever sealed my love for this classic Provençal dish (and one I wrote about in my new book on French regional cuisine).
- About.com’s guide to Provence
- More about the village of Bonnieux
- Iconic Itineraries: Seven Perfect Days in Provence
- A recipe to make Soupe au pistou, by David Lebovitz
- Classic Foods of Provence
- A Cooking Tour in Provence
Next Week on Edible Cities
Next week, Dan Clapson, a writer, recipe writer and blogger living in Calgary, is taking us to Saskatoon, Canada. Don’t miss it!
Photo credits: All pictures by Ann Mah.