Grand aïoli

When hot weather strikes, no matter where I may be in France, my thoughts turn to Provence. I spent the summer there when I was 19, and fell deeply and irremediably in love with the place. The packed red earth, the shade of the umbrella pines, the cicadas singing in the heat, the dusky figs hanging sweet and low on their branches — all this made my heart beat fast, as though I was coming home to a place I’d known in an earlier life. And when my thoughts turn to Provence, I inevitably want to make aïoli.

Grand aïoli / Cod with vegetables and garlic mayonnaise

Now then, just to be clear. When someone mentions aïoli, they can mean one of two things. The first is the sharp Provençal garlic mayonnaise that bears this name. The second is a dish, sometimes called le Grand aïoli, in which a bowl of the sauce is surrounded by fish, usually cod, hard-boiled eggs, and assorted vegetables. This is a perfect summer dish — fresh, healthy and ever so delicious. Accompanied at dinner by a glass of dry white or rosé, it will send you into the evening in the most mellow way imaginable. If you’re a vegetarian, don’t let that stop you. Simply omit the fish.

Site news: When you have a moment, check out the updated menus for summer. You will find separate categories for everyday and special occasions, for vegetarians, vegans — and, of course, the elegant omnivore. Happy cooking!

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