Basically a salade niçoise between two slices of bread, pan bagnat is more of a meal than a snack. Originally it was an example of cuisine pauvre, as a way of using up stale bread, which would be moistened with water, or juicy tomatoes, vinegar or olive oil and packed up for workers to take to lunch. The soft wet bread makes it easier to chew (and make a big mess!)
There have been noises about ‘protecting’ it with a UNESCO designation, as purists are annoyed about people advertizing variations using chicken, smoked salmon, ham, or putting mayonnaise on the bread, or some other abomination (according to them, anyway!).
In Mougins, the gastronomic capital of the Côte d’Azur, you can sometimes find pan bagnat de Mougins, made with lobster instead of tuna.
Image by Arnaud 25