Snapshots from the South of France: Pan Bagnat

"It is the tuna fish sandwich to end all tuna fish sandwiches."


There are many bathing beauties on the French Riviera, but none quite so lovely as bathing bread, known in her native language as Pan Bagnat.

Pan Bagnat is Salade Niçoise on a bun. It is so called because it is traditionally bathed in vinaigrette, which infuses into the bread—thus, bathed bread. It is the tuna fish sandwich to end all tuna fish sandwiches—flavored with olives, anchovies, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, lettuce, and olive oil vinaigrette. The oceanic quality of the tuna is enhanced with the brininess of all the highlighting ingredients, and its truly a Niçois specialty that’s available in nearly every boulangerie along the southern coast of France.

I ordered one that was absolutely enormous and had to be shared for about €6. I have my own version that I love, but I was struck by this particular sandwich’s simplicity: undressed tuna, butter lettuce, sun-drenched sweet tomatoes, hard-boiled egg, black olives, and lemony aioli. It was perfect for a seaside picnic.