My first BB was in St. Pete FL and it was exquisite if not authentic. A lovely smooth broth, lightly perfumed with saffron and Pernod and the essence of fennel with the finest of seafoods. But hey, I am happy to try the original when in France. And I know it is supposed to be dense and intense but I am up for trying the original when I loved my Americanized version. But when Michel (Dana's French bf) said in a pseudo-warning tone: You know, in Provence, BB means the soup for the rest of the fish...you know, the fish that cannot be served otherwise" well, I just latched onto that. Hell, I like uni and how could this not be great. Then he warned that in France the service of this dish is not as we'd expect. You get the broth and some crusty, toasted bread slices and some parmesan (now the stuff we were served is as pictured...not exactly looking so freshly grated) and some rouille which is basically mayonaisse spiked with some paprika. And ours was not really looking so "from scratch". Yet here we were on Cassis and right at the shore and all that... Worst, you get the broth and bread first and then after a bit (a very long bit) you get the fish (the lesser stuff) and the bread to throw into this now much cooled broth.
So yeah. The fish was ok. I was spoiled by my St. Pete experience but this fish was just fine and fresh. But that broth. Yes, it looked totally like Bourdain's but the taste was bracing. It felt very spicy, in a dirty kind of way. And the overwhelming sense I had from this brownish, grainy broth was allspice/clove and tumeric. No, that did not taste like it had a ton of saffron...in fact, not too much saffron at all. It had the bite of tumeric.
So, being a mainly vegetarian in my heart, I weeded out the lovely potatoes, dipped some bread into it and had a couple pieces of fish but.....sorry, I know this violates what is "real" but I loved my BB in St. Pete and my BB in the south of France will never be ordered by me again. So I am just going to admit: I do not like authentic bouillabaisse. I prefer the Americanized version or the American cioppino for my fish stews.
Of course, my husband thought it was great......