One of Europe's oldest ports, founded by the Greeks in 600 B.C., Marseille has always attracted wayfarers, traders, and exiles. After the Suez Canal opened in 1869, the city boomed as the main port for France's burgeoning colonial empire and for a time shared with Chicago the title of world's fastest-growing city. Today, most Marseillais are Franco-hyphen-something. Much of its population of 850,000 (it's France's second-largest city) has Italian roots. They're joined by one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe, France's second-largest Armenian population, one of the largest North African communities in Europe, and thousands of people of Corsican, Greek, Spanish, and Russian ancestry. Every generation of immigrants contributed new dishes and seasonings to the city's culinary repertoire: Algerians and Tunisians brought rich tagines, merguez, and couscous, broadening the Marseillais pantry with ingredients from the spice trail. The Italians brought pizza and the Spanish developed the city's taste for expensive saffron in its signature bouillabaisse. The latest wave of newcomers are young professionals, including chefs attracted to the city for the richness of its Mediterranean influences and the region's phenomenal ingredients to support those influences. Today, Marseille's dining scene is maturing, drawing from centuries of diversity to go far beyond the rustic, hearty food that sated my young appetite; the city is evolving into one of the most interesting dining destinations in France.