Pan Bagnat is one of the specialties of Nice and is a popular dish worldwide. However, the locals insist that the real ones can only be found in Nice. Pan Bagnat is indeed a sandwich made with round rustic bread, tuna, raw vegetables and olive oil.
In the Occitan language, it is called pan banhat. The Niçois called it pan bagnat, meaning “wet bread”. The bread absorbs tomato juice, vinegar and olive oil during the preparation. The root of the term is from Italian pane bagnato or pan bagnato. In the 19th century, there was an influx of immigrants from Italy to Nice. They had an influence on the societal, economic, cultural and gastronomic development of the city.
Pan bagnat was originally a working class snack, especially among the fishermen and other morning workers. It is made with simple, fresh and local ingredients. The traditional version contains anchovies but nowadays they are widely replaced by tuna. In the old days, tuna was an expensive fish compared to anchovy.
Pan bagnat is served as a dish. It is reasonably priced and easy to prepare.
Pan Bagnat and Salad Niçoise are indeed made with the same ingredients. They include raw vegetables, tuna or anchovies and sliced hard boiled eggs. The ingredients are seasoned with a generous amount of olive oil and a little bit of vinegar in order to make the bread soft, making it easier to be chewed. Other common ingredients include broad beans, green pepper, scallion, basil and black olives.
The bread is split in half, drizzled with vinegar and olive oil, and stuffed with the ingredients. Sometimes the cut bread is rubbed with garlic to enhance the flavour.
In Nice, we can buy it basically at the bakeries and eateries. Some local sellers even put up an “authentic label” for their pan bagnat. Pan bagnat and its recipe have now become part of the local heritage.
Round rustic bread, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, tuna in olive oil or anchovies, small radish, scallion, onions (preferably red onions from Sicily)
Green pepper, broad beans, artichoke and basil.
Ingredients strictly forbidden:
Cucumber, corn, salad leaves and mayonnaise.
-Cut the bread in half widthways. Rub the cut sides with garlic. Do not hesitate to drizzle the bread with a lot of olive oil!
-Season the ingredients with salt, pepper and olive oil during the preparation.
-Cut the tomatoes in cubes. Remove part of the crumb from one the bread halves and top it with the tomato cubes.
-Cut the radish, scallion, onions and other optional vegetables in cubes and put them on top of the tomato layer.
-Spread tuna chunks or anchovies and the sliced hard boiled eggs on top.
-Add basil and sliced black olives.
-Cover it with the other bread half.
Voilà, Bon appétit!