FFWD – Pissaladière

A corner slice, ready to eat.

This week, I’ve been re-reading Adam Gopnik’s Paris to the Moon, in preparation for seeing him speak at the CBC Book Club this weekend. Almost as good as going to the Massey Lectures themselves. In the opening essay, he asserts that “[t]here are two kinds of travelers. There is the kind who goes to see what there is to see and sees it, and the kind who has an image in his head and goes out to accomplish it. The first visitor has an easier time, but I think the second visitor sees more. He sees with his mind, and maybe even with his heart, or tries to.” I’m not sure that it’s entirely fair to the first sort of traveller, who may simply be keeping an open mind, but I think most of us have constructed imaginary versions of places we want to visit.

Kneading the dough.

In particular, I think French Fridays participants might be guilty of cooking a version of France into existence. I know that many of the recipes feed my fantasies of Paris bistros or countryside picnics. This week’s recipe, Pissaladière, has me imagining travelling through Mediterranean sunshine on a Vespa and picking up a slice of this French pizza before heading to the beach. Not that I would drive my scooter one-handed. Really.

Opening the can of anchovies.

This fantasy only works if there’s someone else doing the cooking. The reality of this recipe is more like a weekend in the country, than a whirlwind trip to the beach. (Not that I’m speeding in my imagined Mediterranean trip, either.) The process of making this dish is meditatively slow. The thinly sliced onions are cooked at low temperature, so that they caramelize without colouring much. While that’s happening, the dough is mixed and set to rise in a warm room. When it has risen, it’s rolled into an extremely thin rectangle and covered with the cooked onions. Things speed up considerably here – the Pissaladière is baked for twenty minutes, then the olives and anchovies are added before sliding it into the oven for a final five minutes.

Spreading the slowly-cooked onions onto the unbaked crust.

It might seem a lot of work for a snack, but it’s worth it. The onions are meltingly sweet, which is balanced by the salt of the anchovies and onions. The plain crust is shatteringly crisp at the edges, but sturdy enough to hold the toppings. I might not be able to afford a Mediterranean vacation at the moment, but this dish provides a little compensation. It’s certainly safer eating it here, than trying to eat it while steering a Vespa on twisty Mediterranean roads at high speed.

Adding the olives and anchovies.
Photo by Jeannine McCarthy

Tell me, what sort of traveller are you? Have you taken a trip to a place you’ve fantasized about? How did it measure up?

You can find many other blogged descriptions of this week’s FFWD recipe here: Pissaladière

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22 thoughts on “FFWD – Pissaladière

  1. I’m a careful traveller. If I’m going some place new, I would spend hours on sites like Tripadvisor reading up on the place, things to do, places to visit etc. 🙂 My mum has that same Corelle plate you have, she bought it in the 80’s!

  2. I really enjoyed your post! This recipe in particular had me dreaming about eating the real thing in Nice. I think sometimes when I travel I get too much of an image in my head that I forget to open my mind and see whatever else there is to see. I’ve been making an effort lately to not get too many preconceived ideas in my head about a new experience, especially when someone else is there to experience it with me.

  3. For some reason, now all I can see is me driving through the Cote d’Azur cliffs in a Vespa with a slice in my hand and going “weeeee!” I have learned to relax in my travels – for every day of harried sightseeing, I try to make sure to spare equal time relaxing and just soaking up the place. At the end of the day, it is that meal or that conversation you struck with a stranger that sticks to your mind and heart when you are back home.

  4. Nice post…I’m a little of both I think. I always have an image in my mind of what to see but then I seem to play some of my time by ear to explore. I would never be on a Vespa, but would love to be in the South of France having a slice of pissaladiere and of course a glass of wine! Your pissaladiere looks so wonderful! Have a nice weekend!

  5. Hmmm…I keep mulling over that quote, and I’m not sure that I agree with it. I think that if you travel with too precise of an expectation, you’ll inevitably be disappointed and you may miss the unforeseen wonderful things that ARE there in your quest to make a particular experience happen. Running through Venice in a freezing torrential downpour to get to a restaurant that had been closed the two other times we tried to go, only to arrive and have the staff a) grin and seat us right next to the radiator and b) bring champagne, unasked, was definitely not an image I had in my head of how our time in Venice would be. I wouldn’t have it any other way, though. On the other hand, you don’t want to march along in a herd, snapping pictures and seeing what there is to see without interacting, either. Tricky.

    On the other hand, your pissaladiere looks picture-perfect!

  6. Paris to the Moon sounds like a good read. I haven’t been to the California lectures series in about a year and I have missed them because they got me to read authors I probably wouldn’t have selected on my own, but often authors who I have long admired came and read from their books and talk about their writing process which I always enjoyed hearing about. I enjoyed your post and was visualizing you balancing your pissaladiere with one hand while driving your scooter with the other. Your pissaladiere looks wonderful with the light-colored caramelized onions. Have a lovely weekend, Teresa.

  7. I have this image of all the people in France on their scooters scooping local cuisine into their mouths (gracefully, of course) as they scoot along.
    That is an interesting quote. When I travel, I usually have one or two things in mind that are on my “I really need to do list” and then I like to spend some time once I get there asking around to see what may be less “known”.
    One of our best ever adventures was when we were in the Denver, CO area. We rented a Suburban. Popped in the GPS and just started driving. There were some scary moments (like narrow dirt roads with sheer drops into gullies and gulches), but it was an experience we will never forget. We totally would have missed it if we stuck to the guidebook.

  8. I’m a bit of both when it comes to traveling. There are some pre-expectations but I have always left my mind (and heart) open to other possibilities. And I think I have actually ridden a Vespa along the Cote d’Azur in my younger years, but without the pissaladiere! I love the last photo above, your pissaladiere looks SO appetizing!

  9. I love Adam Gopnik’s writing and really enjoyed Paris to the Moon. Hearing him speak should be a treat. I’m not sure which kind of traveler I am. I tend to go somewhere with a vague idea of what to see, then just explore. Lots of unexpected turns and a great adventure at the end of the day. I love your imaginings that go with the pissaladiere. Makes me want to take a trip…

  10. Another great post. Most places I’ve seen…except for some very poor 3rd world countries, and way better than my imagination. I’m usually surprised by the extras, the nice people, the beauty of our world, and the education one gets on the side. I always have a vision of what things will be like and what I want to do, but I find each destination holds so much more. On the other hand, the poverty in some countries I have visited, especially places like Northern Mexico, and some Eastern European countries…well let’s just say that I’m always glad to get home. I learn gratitude in ways I never imagined.

  11. Never mind the Vespa, Tricia and I had our doubts in a rental car on some of those mountain
    roads in the hill towns above Nice. I agree with Cher about travel. Do the unexpected
    and go with some of the local ideas rather than just the tourist spots. I often wonder if
    anyone else tried a visit to the Sewers of Paris. Your recipe turned out great.

  12. Lovely post, as always. As for traveling, I’m such a homebody – traveling is great, but I travel with very few expectations (other than it not raining for a week and not wanting to pack it in and go home, LOL). So far, I can’t think of a place or trip that disappointed; we always to try to look for new things to do, and eat where things are not touristy.I want to have the feeling of being part of a place, and not just visiting, but I suppose that difficult when you don’t know your way around and, honestly, you ARE the visitor. We aren’t good planners, but I think that helps since we often end up enjoying “found” experiences like eating great fish next to the sea or staying in a historic hotel (just because it was an inexpensive last minute option), or ending up at a national monument/park because it turns out to be not too far away. I’m looking forward to more international traveling now that we have passports (made us get them 2 years ago “just in case”). Hopefully D goes back to work and money will be less of an issue.

  13. I’m so glad you enjoyed this one, Teresa…and I loved the images that came to mind with your descriptions of your French fantasies…I’m ready to book my flight!!

  14. I really enjoyed your post. I admit that I like to have somewhat of a plan when I travel, but a huge part of a trip for me is eating. I love researching restaurants and food, and those experiences are always some of my favorites!

  15. I take so many vacations through the foods I cook. It has been pointed out to me that I have an unnatural fear of dough which is probably why I was so easily convinced to use the puff pastry. I will certainly have to face that one down in short order. This looks lovely my dear!

  16. Loved that you shared that book – I am definitely going to check it out. Your pissaladiere turned out simply gorgeous. Well done !! Nana was right about that rental car. On the little roads high in the hills as well as the busy cities….I think I would prefer a Vespa next time. And I really enjoyed reading your entire post – just great ~

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