The word ratatouille derives from the Occitan ratatolha and is related to the French ratouiller and tatouiller, expressive forms of the verb touiller, meaning "to stir up". From the late 18th century, in French, it merely indicated a coarse stew. The modern ratatouille - tomatoes as a foundation for sautéed garlic, onions, zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, marjoram, fennel and basil, or bay leaf and thyme, or a mix of green herbs like herbes de Provence - does not appear in print until c. 1930. Nice was an Italian city (Nizza) until the Treaty of Turin was signed in 1860 between the Sardinian king and Napoleon III.
The Guardian's food and drink writer, Felicity Cloake, wrote in 2016 that, considering ratatouille's relative recent origins (it first appeared in 1877), there exists a great variety of methods of preparation for it. The Larousse Gastronomique claims "according to the purists, the different vegetables should be cooked separately, then combined and cooked slowly together until they attain a smooth, creamy consistency", so that (according to the chair of the Larousse's committee Joël Robuchon) "each [vegetable] will taste truly of itself."
As well as confit byaldi, related dishes exist in many Mediterranean cuisines: pisto (Castilian-Manchego, Spain), samfaina (Catalan, Spain), tombet (Majorcan), ciambotta, caponata and peperonata (Sicily, Italy), briám and tourloú (Greek), şakşuka and türlü (Turkish), lecsó (Hungarian).
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