The origins of my family are rooted in Languedoc, my mother was from Uzès (Gard), my father from Montpellier (Hérault), and I am deeply attached to this territory, its landscapes and its tastes. The agriade is a dish that my mother, an excellent cook, prepared for us from time to time. This is a relatively unknown but typical dish of the region and more specifically of Saint-Gilles, in the Camargue – a very “land-sea” recipe: the meat, generally chuck of beef, unless it is not either bull, is marinated then cooked for a very long time in a mince made up of gherkins, capers and anchovies, with garlic, onion and bay leaf.
Contrary to many French regional specialities, whose single name sometimes hides dozens of variants, it is a dish which can only be prepared in two ways (marinated or not), but which can be found in multiple designations. Historically called “aigriade” – derived from the word “sour”, because the meat was preserved on the boats thanks to the salt of anchovies and the acid of capers and gherkins -, it is more specifically called “aigriade Saint-Gilloise” or “Camargue sourdough”, but also “mariniers stew”, “barque knitting”, “broufade”, “estouffade”, or, as my mother called it, “beef à la mode des mariniers du Rhône”. The souring necessarily brings me back to the Camargue, the Rhône and its sailors, who descended the river from Lyon to Marseille and could preserve and consume this preparation for at least ten days.
I have always loved watching my mother prepare and then enjoy her meals with the family, and I cook a lot for large tables. On the other hand, everyday cooking bores me, I don’t know how to do without a recipe, which makes me say that I am not a good cook. But I am so obsessed with the subject that François-Régis Gaudry, who sometimes involves me in his program “On va goûter”, on France Inter, believes that I have taken the wrong path and that I have missed my gastronomic vocation. Besides, I really like deciphering meal scenes in films.
I find that food in the cinema only really works with gourmet filmmakers, like Claude Chabrol or Bertrand Tavernier. Conversely, with François Truffaut, we do not eat, because he was not at all interested in this theme. At Tavernier, we see bistro scenes that make your mouth water. We know that Chabrol often chose filming locations based on gastronomic destinations.
There are terrible sequences like that of the meal in That the beast dies or of the lamb in Vincent, François, Paul and the others, by Claude Sautet, around which we swing horrors but where the protagonists end up eating because their appetite always takes back its rights… The shared dish is a whole symbolism that crosses the screen – pleasure, sorrows and mixed memories.