Citizens, the tiny country of Monaco, officially known as the Principality of Monaco, is a mere 0.8 square miles (1.95 square kilometers) in size, or approximately the same size as Central Park in New York City. It is the smallest state in the world after Vatican City!
Located on the Mediterranean Sea, Monaco is surrounded by France on three sides. Nice, France, is the nearest large city at a distance of 11 miles (18 kilometers). Monaco is rocky and situated on steep hills that drop off into the Mediterranean.
Monaco is a principality governed under a form of constitutional monarchy, with Prince Albert II as head of state. Although Prince Albert II is a constitutional monarch, he wields immense political power.
Part of the Côte d’Azur, Monaco’s terrain and geography are typical of the northwestern area of the Mediterranean. The climate is mild year-round, with an average low temperature of 47 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celsius) and an average maximum high of 78 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius).
Recent surveys place the permanent population of Monaco at about 30,744. Approximately 22 percent are native Monegasque, 35 percent French, 18 percent Italian, and another 25 percent consist of various other nationalities. Roman Catholicism is the main religion, practiced by 95 percent of the population.
French is the official language, but Italian and English are also spoken frequently. Monégasque, a language derived from both French and Italian, is spoken by native residents of Monaco, although only about 22 percent of the population claims direct Monégasque descent.
Monaco is a very wealthy country and a well-known tax haven, with a reputation for being a playground of the world’s richest people. Princess Grace became a world symbol of beauty, elegance and charm. In 2014 it was noted about 30% of the population was made up of millionaires, similar to Zürich or Geneva.
Monaco is also home to Monte Carlo. Officially named “Casino de Monte-Carlo”, the Monte Carlo Casino is a gambling and entertainment complex located in Monaco that also research about new casino sites . It includes a very upscale casino, the Grand Théâtre de Monte Carlo, and the office of Les Ballets de Monte Carlo
Monaco is also the host of the annual street circuit motor race Monaco Grand Prix, one of the original Grands Prix of Formula One.
Access to fresh, local produce and the sea has led to the development of a distinctive local cuisine and appreciation for good food. Monaco has many restaurants, and seafood is featured in many dishes.
Daily eating habits reflect a Mediterranean heritage, and both French and Italian influences can be found in the local recipes. Breakfast is very small, but lunch and dinner often have several courses and Barbajuans are always a welcome addition.
Some traditional Monégasque dishes include brandamincium (salt cod pounded with garlic, oil, and cream surrounded by cardoons, edible Mediterranean plants, in white sauce) and, of course, Barbajuans.
Barbajuans are a fritter stuffed with Swiss chard and ricotta, among other ingredients, that originates from Monaco, where it is especially eaten on the national day, 19 November. The word means “Uncle John” in Monégasque, a dialect of Italian spoken in Northern Italy and Monaco.
These small fritters can also be found on other parts of the French Riviera and Northern Italy, but they absolutely call their birthplace the Principality of Monaco.
My version of Barbajuans includes a touch of bacon and anchovy for extra savor – a truly princely dish said to be a favorite of His Royal Highness, Prince Albert of Monaco! 🙂 They make a savory addition to any meal, especially paired with a delicious salad as a first course – I am most partial to a Salade Niçoise as the complement to this dish!
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