History of ratatouille

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Ratatouille is one of the most emblematic dishes of Provence, here is its history…


Born under the sun of Provence

Ratatouille is made from foods and ingredients that, for the most part, weren’t born on the shores of the Big Blue. They come from much further away and have traveled a very long way before arriving on our plates. Ratatouille is in a way a concentrate of the globalization of food, a dish whose components have geographical origins as distant as they are varied. That said, the ratatouille itself, as a culinary specialty, is very Provençal. She was born under the sun of Provence, in the county of Nice. Moreover, its name Ratatouille comes from the Occitan ratatolha, with etymologically a link with the verb to touiller, to stir to mix. The word ratatouille appeared for the first time in 1778. At the time, it meant a stew or a coarsely cooked dish, from the beginning of the nineteenth century.

“a bad stew made with the spleen of animals”

In 1846 again, the French Provençal dictionary of Monsieur Honora includes the word ratatolha. The term is defined as, a soup for rats. Its etymology, according to the author, is: “a bad stew made with the spleen of animals”. And we have to wait more than a century, in 1952 precisely, to finally see the very first ratatouille recipe as we know it appear. Although it is very popular today, ratatouille took time to make its mark among the tasty and appreciated dishes of the French. It was consumed by the military and also in prisons, because it was easy and quick to cook. The very first publication of the current recipe for ratatouille, more laudatory, finally appeared a century later, in 1952, in a transport magazine “La Vie du Rail”. Composed of vegetables widely grown by families in Provence, it is then very close to the Basque piperade as well as the bohemian, another Provençal dish made with tomatoes and eggplant. For several years now, the greatest chefs have enjoyed cooking ratatouille to transform it into a delicious and refined dish.

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