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A Bastille Day rant du jour

It being Bastille Day and me feeling cranky: a petite rant.

I've looked for bouillabaisse on Long Island since de Gaulle's final days. Not zuppa di pesce. Not cioppino. Not mariscada. Not impostors. And nothing, nothing with salmon in it. The "vrai" thing.

It's easier to find truffles on Jones Beach.

Bouillabaisse is the fragrant, intense fish soup-seafood stew of Provence, found at its best between Marseilles and Toulon. There are plenty that claim the name along the Mediterranean coast, in Paris, elsewhere. But the real one, with saffron and anise, rascasse and chapon, rust-hued rouille and toasty bread, is elusive.

So, adaptations must be made. Sometimes, different fish are substitued. Often, crustaceans are added. Even mollusks, mon dieu. It depends where you are, what's available, how true the kitchen wants to be. The last good one I had was by chance in the Caribbean, on Saint Martin. It was during Reagan's first term.

Faced with the guillotine and asked for a last meal, a bouillabaisse would be my request.

Today, it's my first. Nominations welcome.

Meantime, enjoy the day. And finish with a souffle.

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