A nostalgic parlor-game: Have you ever left a place? If so, what foods do you miss most? From California, I miss high-quality sushi and mexican foods of all kinds. From Boston, it's more ambiance - a good bar meal on a friday night with friends.
If I ever leave the Cote d'Azur, I know what I will miss most- a summer aperitif with a glass of something cold (Rosé is native, but champagne is delicious too) served with toasts and tapenade as the sun hangs long and low over the sapphire sea.
Our season is still rainy but it makes us appreciate our good evenings more, and we are ever hopeful, thinking that as the season progresses, we will finally have our summer nights. We have been having an aperitif, apéro for short, on a regular basis, even during the week. Our tapenade and toasts have been making a regular appearance on the table, and it made me wonder - where does it come from?
How can we tell? I found an excellent article (in French) on the etymology of Tapenade, following a lead from food writer Clifford Wright who writes that the name tapenade derives from the provencale word for caper - so without capers, there is no tapenade! The article on "Etymologie Occitane" explains that the Greek word from capers - Kapperis - is repeated all through the european languages. However, in the occitaine languages (which were/are spread across the south of France and into Italy) the "c" is replaced by a "t". The hypothesis is that the word predates roman languages and is seen in the languages where the caper plan is native.
So, how do you make it? Well, I'll be totally honest - I've never made tapenade from scratch. We buy it from the local mill where we process our olives into oil. David Lebovitz came to his own realisation about making it from scratch but he includes a (fancified) recipe if you're motivated to try. Here's a more classical treatment. Or rather, come and visit and enjoy tapenade and glass of rosé in situ!