Every outing in the scrubland is a real festival of the characteristic scents of Provence. Everything seems more fragrant in the land of Pagnol, and this is true for the famous herbs of Provence, which, to protect themselves from the evaporation of their water reserve, emit a thick layer of essential oil to diminish the sunlight.
More than adding a very particular flavour to any dish, 'herbes de Provence' are very healthy.
Thyme ('farigoule' for those from Provence) is definitely the most emblematic herb of the scrubland. Its flavour, which brings to mind lemon or verbena, is great for many types of dishes: soups, tomatoes, roasted or grilled meat, stews, etc. Furthermore, it contains a strong bacteria and antiseptic, thymol, which helps with respiratory problems (when consumed as an herbal tea).
Basil is also inseparable from Provence. Pistou, a paste or sauce made of basil, garlic and olive oil, is a base for many dishes: soup, pasta, mixed vegetables, etc. On its own it goes very well with tomatoes, olives, asparagus and various meats. In addition, its smell repels mites, fleas and mosquitoes.
The scrubland is also home to many other herb plants, like tarragon, summer savory, oregano, and marjoram, which will liven up any dish and give it the flavours of Provence.
Olives: in its original form, the olive tree appeared in France around 10,000 years ago. However, it wasn't until the time of the Phoenicians, around 500 BC, that the olive culture arose, first in Massilia (Marseille) and then spreading to a current 13 different French departments.
This tree, a symbol of the sun and the heat, is a fundamental element of the landscape of Provence, and the cultivation of its fruit, like its consumption, are part of the heritage of southern France. What could be better than being seated at a terrace by a bowling pitch with a pastis in hand and a bowl of Picholine olives (harvested by hand) before you? Maybe waiting for the fruit to ripen and taking part in an 'olivade' (a real festival celebrating the harvest), and trying the olive oil (flavoured green or black) that is like a burst of sunshine on a tomato salad or even just on a piece of bread.
Of course we can't talk about olives without talking about the famous and delicious tapenade. The origins of its recipe are not known and its etymology is a matter of debate (most likely tapenade comes from 'tapeno' which means capers in Provençal). This purée of olives, capers, herbs and anchovies is enjoyed spread on a piece of toast or with an omelette, a salad, or potato pancakes.