There are two things about Marseille I remember very well – soup and soap.
We had our first, as-authentic-as-you-can-get Provencal bouillabaisse in a restaurant along Vieux Port, after hearing good raves about it. We were hesitant at first, given what we read about the soup and how it originated – a stew made out of seafood scraps. Oy. I am not keen on fishy smelling foods.
But we weren’t disappointed. It was gloriously fragrant and delightfully filling! The bread rolls that accompanied the stew just kept coming, and we were gleefully stuffing our faces.
We needed to walk off the bulk threatening to split open the buckles on our pants, and strolled into a store that said Savon de Marseille. For some reason, I thought they sold tea packaged in colourful cubes. Tea Salon of Marseille? It must have been the fish stew talking.
I learnt later that the green cubes were somewhat of a legend – they are soaps made out of sea water from the Mediterranean and olive oil. There are only a few stores that make this traditional soap today – which explained why it was so expensive!
The varieties they make now are mind-boggling and commercial. The lavender ones smelled heavenly, and the lemon ones made me think of my sink. If you do get one, go authentic.
And wear pants with elastic waistbands to gorge on the fish stew.