The wonderful illusion of Provencal summer is best enjoyed in the flavours of that mythical region rather than in the traffic jams and over priced everything that is the sad reality of Provence in high season. Yesterday I made a wonderful fricasée of chicken with olive oil, white wine, onions, huge fresh tomatoes, capers and olives. This was summer on a plate and, being very delicious, it disappeared as quickly as does an English summer. Therefore it remains unrecorded. I had, however, wisely kept a dish of unctuous, oily, perfumed ratatouille in the shadows of the kitchen where it survived the rape of the table. Elizabeth David’s recipe for ratatouille in “Mediterranean Cooking” is the one that I love. In my view, her omission of courgettes is the key. Courgettes need to retain some shape and firmness to impart their delicious flavour which will not be the case resulting from the slow stewing in oil that ratatouille demands. Sweet onions should be finely sliced and melted in olive oil over a low heat for 10 or 15 minutes. When the onions have softened throw in some sliced red peppers and cubed aubergine, stirring them into the oily onions. Ten minutes later add the skinned, de-seeded and chopped tomatoes not forgetting to season the whole, generously, with sea salt and black pepper. Cover the pan and leave the mixture to gently stew for half and hour at which time you can uncover it and leave the ratatouille to bubble gently for a further 10 minutes, by which time the oil should be mostly absorbed. Should it kept under lock and key I have heard that it will last for days.