One of the great pleasures of dining in France's lovely Provence is that a great deal of the eating is done outdoors. I fondly remember atmospheric luncheons in home gardens and dinners at seaside tables, but especially recall picnics just about anywhere - at the beach, along the roadside, on a hillside or in an olive grove.
The people of Provence have long been blessedwith a rich repertoire of natural food products: The finest of olives and olive oil, grapes and wine, flavorful vegetables, aromatic herbs, tender sweet fruits and bountiful sea-food.
The cuisine reflects Greek-Roman her-itages with some Italian influence in the East and Spanish in the West. But Provencal cooks have remained partial to dishes made with local foods.
Much of the Provencal fare is excellent for picnics as it will withstand the heat and travel well. One picnic, or several, could feature an assortment of coldhors d'oeuvre such as pickled mushrooms, marinatedartichoke hearts, rice-filled tomatoes and green peppers, crisp raw vegetables, garlic sausage or salami, herb or anchovy garnished hard-cooked eggs, dried white bean or green bean salads vinaigrette, salads made with chic-peas, lentils or rice and vegetables, and cooked meats, with grapes, peaches, apricots, figs, cheeses, French bread and wine.
Such well-known Provencal dishes as ratatouille, salade Nicoise and aioli (garlic mayonnaise) with raw vegetables are also good picnic fare. I also favor crisp raw radishes with green leaves intact on slices of buttered cursty bread.
Given below are recipes for dishes that can be prepared in the home and taken on picnics to be enjoyed with or without foods and dishes mentioned above. COLD TOMATO OMELETTE (1 or 2 servings)
1 small onion, peeled and minOMELETTE (1 or 2 servings) 1 small onion, peeled and minced 1 garli celove, crushed 2 teaspoons olive oil 1 large tomato, peeled , seeded and chopped 3 eggs, slightly beaten 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 1/2 teaspoon dried basil or oregano Salt, pepper to taste
Saute onion and garlic in oil in a medium skillet or omelet pan until tender. Add tomato and saute 1 minute. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl and pour into pan. Tilt to spread evenly and cook over low heat, loosening with a knife around the edges and tilting to let liquid run underneath, as omelet cooks. When mixture is set run a spatula around the edges and flip omelet over. Cook briefly on other side. Remove to a plate and cool. leave whole or cut in half. Wrap in foil. ANCHOVIADE (Makes about 3/3 cup)
This is a humble pungent anchovy paste that is spread on small rounds of French bread and eaten as a snack or appetizer. 2 can (2 ounces each) flat anchovy fillets, drained 2 large garlic cloves, crushed 2 tablespoons minced shallots or onions 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 teablespoon red wine vinegar Freshly ground pepper Small rounds of French bread
Mash anchovies with a fork in a small dish. Add remaining ingredients, except bread, and mash intoa paste consistency. Put in a small container and leave at room temperature. When ready to serve, spread a little of the mixture over small rounds of French bread. PISSALADIERE (10 to 12 servings)
This is a Provencal version of [WORD ILLEGIBLE] featuring olives and onions. 8 medium onions, peeled and sliced 2 or 3 garlic cloves, crushed 1/2 cup olive oil or mixture of olive and vegetable oil 2 tablespoons butter Salt, Pepper to taste 1 packaged pizza sough mix (6 3/4 ounces) or equivalent homemade yeast dough 1 can (2 ounces) flat anchovies, drained 12 pitted black olives
Sauce onions and garlic in hot oil and butter in a medium skillet until soft, being careful not to brown. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper. Cool. Prepare and roll out dough. Arrange in a 12-inch pizza pan or dish or a round cookie sheet. Spread onions evenly over the top. Make a lattice pattern with anchovies over onions. PLace an olive in center of each square. Brush lightly with oil. Bake in a preheated 425-degree oven until dough is golden and crusty, about 20 minutes. Cool. To serve, cut into pie-shaped wedges.