“The Mediterranean cuisine is one of the most colorful and vibrant in the world, providing sensual dishes flavored with wild herbs gathered from the hillsides; lamb and chicken are often roasted whole over coals; vegetables are abundant and used in a wide variety of soups, bakes and salads.”
The menu of Figue is the story of the Mediterranean. The history of food and culture is one of conquerors, immigrants and trade. Each wave brought far off ingredients and cooking techniques and a melding of the peoples. For example, Provence has a long history of being colonized by foreigners. Early Ligurian and Celt tribes intermarried with the local people. Phoenician galleys brought Greek traders and eventually founded a trade post in Massalia, the future city of Marseille. The Greeks gave Provence olives and grapes. The expansion of olive groves and civilization went hand and hand with the expansion of the Greeks and Phoenicians. It has been said that the Mediterranean ends where olives cease to grow. The Romans came to help protect the besieged Greeks. Eventually claiming the region as theirs and forming ‘Provincia’, the first Roman Provence outside of Italy. The Romans built some of their greatest cities, Nîmes, Arles and Orange. Anchoïade, the sauce made from Anchovies, Garlic and Olive Oil is a close cousin to the famed Roman sauce Garum. Salt cod came from the Romans. The Moors at one point controlled 3/4 of the Mediterranean. Only the Roman Empire reached further. The invading Moors brought the habit of serving many small vegetable appetizers as well as a preference of saffron flavored rice to potatoes. They introduced lamb, eggplant and almonds. Many of Marseille’s residents are descendants of immigrants from Italy, Spain, and North Africa. Marseille was also a major resettlement point for former colonists who returned to Europe when Algeria became independent in 1962.
The cuisine and culture of the people continued to be influenced by galleys that sailed to distant outposts in the Far East and North Africa. Marseilles and other Mediterranean ports were major points on the trade route. Trade route brought exotic ingredients like saffron, olives, tomatoes, salt cod, eggplants, peppers and many other staples to Provence. Immigrants and ship crews brought different techniques and recipes. Salted codfish from the New World was being eaten in France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece and other nations. Tomatoes from the Americas became an important part of the diet. Arab traders brought various fruits and vegetables. Each culture left their own unique imprint on the people, culture and gastronomy of the Mediterranean.
The countries surrounding the Sea share the blue azure waters, temperate climates with hot summers and mild winters. Each country grows and raises products loyal to the seasons, artichokes, squash, fennel and a bounty of wild mushrooms in the Fall; lemons, oranges and other citrus fruits in the Winter; asparagus, radishes, lettuces in Springs; and the bounty of tomatoes, eggplants, onions, garlic in the Summer.
The menu at Figue will capture the spirit and sensibilities in an American way. Less locked into the cultural dogmas and more focused on the vibrancy of the experience…
Chef Francois de Melogue
Below is my charcuterie card that will be on each table and in the bar area…