A tale of “Boeuf en Daube”

Boeuf en Daube is traditionally cooked in its daubière (ancient clay pot) slowly a few hours at the corner of the fire. The dish wins in flavors when warmed up a second time.

The meat cut in large pieces is set to marinate the day before in a provencal clay pot (daubière) with wine, usually accompanied by salted or smoked pork belly.

Most historians of gastronomy agree that it was born along roads and Provençal canals in the 19th century. Ro-ro (Roll-on/roll-off ships) or wagoners (the ancestors of today's truck drivers) provided food and non-food goods from the villages of Haute-Provence to large cities such as Aix or Marseille.

The sailors dragged with their horses the heavy barges on the canals near Arles.

These strong men with good appetites loved hot dishes with a good local red wine.

And especially a beef stew locally called "daube", a dish of poor which was however a feast for these people of the countryside who only ate beef on special occasions and these trips were appreciated for the change made to food routines of their everyday life.

Thus in the 19th century in Provence, and until the engines replace the horses, each post house, each hostel kept a pot of stew to warm to feed these hungry travelers at discretion.

The daubière was placed in the hot ashes, next to the embers while waiting for the gourmand who consumed it at the time, either with potatoes, or with a boiled spelled.

Italians who came to settle in Provence a little later introduced polenta to accompany this recipe and then macaroni (short pasta in the shape of a small pipe) which became in the twentieth century the traditional accompaniment of any daube to the point that when we speak of "macaronade" in the menus of village festivals we mean daube accompanied by macaroni. Today, the daube of goose and duck, and even of bulls in the season of the summer holidays garnish more the tables when the stew is invited there.

The Tursan wine is always in the spotlight and the "daube à l'ancienne" still sign some labels of preservers and food lovers!

A legend says that the "daube" was borne thanks to a feminine defect: “chatter".

One fine morning, a peasant woman cooked a piece of beef and, forgetting it completely, went to exchange some gossip with one of her neighbors.

The beef slowly began to attach to the bottom of the pot, giving off an odor that reminded our peasant of her household chores.

In an attempt to repair the damage, she covered her meat with water and continued gossiping with her neighbor. Three times during the day, she forgot her beef, three times in a row, she lengthened the sauce.

For the third time, for fear of her husband's reproaches, and to disguise the smell and appearance of the burned meat, she added what she had on hand, tomatoes, herbs, spices, and wine.

The husband found the dish delicious and asked for more!


© 2018 Wessel Woortman

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