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June 20, 2014 6:07 pm
A few weeks ago I idly suggested that the splendid Ligurian torta pasqualina might have arrived from the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, as a result of Phoenician trading. I got it in the neck for that. A learned Madrileño took me to task: apparently most of Spain is littered with various tortas, most of them with cheese, many with spinach and all with a filo topping.
Scroll down for method and ingredients
Serves 8 as part of antipasti
And did I know that I had made the same mistake as many others, thinking America was discovered by the Genoese? I might as well have said that the moon was walked upon by the people of Cincinnati because that was Neil Armstrong’s home town.
I stand corrected, Professor López. He went on to write, explaining the ubiquity of certain Mediterranean foods, “In Spain we have a saying: ‘In all the lands of the chickpeas ...’” He has a point: chickpeas are the common denominator whether you are munching garbanzos in Valencia, couscous and chickpeas in Tangier, socca in Nice, pasta e ceci in Tuscany, falafel or hummus just about everywhere else. I had better stop there before the professor fires off another missive.
The socca in Nice is great fun and I had thought it unique. If I had listened to the prof I would have known that unique is a rare commodity.The delivery, on the back of a bike into the market, is theatrical and fun. Should it still be hot and crisp, a few mouthfuls are just the thing after a morning’s shopping.
However, I prefer the Tuscan equivalent, a bit thicker and served as part of a range of antipasti. Some cured meat and salami are an essential part of this meal. I have served it with French beans but I might have roasted and peeled some peppers, stewed some chard or cicoria or just cut up a few tomatoes. I won’t risk conjecturing who made a chickpea pancake first .
Call it chickpea bread or a pancake: it tastes the same. Serves 8 as part of antipasti.
|1||sprig of rosemary|
Only worth doing when the beans are genuinely fine and will snap in your fingers.
|1 kg||French beans|
|½ tsp||black pepper|
|1 tbs||white wine vinegar|
|3 tbs||olive oil|
Rowley’s drinking choice
I’m looking forward to long, lazy lunches in Italy this year, washed down with some fresh, zesty white Orvieto.
Rowley Leigh is the chef at Le Café Anglais
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