We stepped into a shop near the train station just in time to see a small Italian woman pull an oversized shallow copper pan from a big wood burning oven at the back of the bake shop. The pan was huge, I'd guess about 30 inches in diameter, it held a thin golden chickpea pancake sizzling in olive oil. The moment she set the pan down, she set to work quickly slicing the hot pancake into irregular wedges with a pizza wheel. Just as quickly, a crowd appeared, and those slices we're flying out the door.
In Ligurian shops, this popular snack is called Farinata, but you'll see the same dish in many bakeries further south along the Tuscan coastline referred to as Torta di Ceci or Cecina. Farinata is also a popular street food in Nice, but it's called Socca in France. It's really just a thin savoury pancake made from a simple batter of equal parts chickpea flour and water, with a bit of olive oil. It's baked in a very hot oven until golden and crispy on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside.
Sometimes rosemary or onion is added to the batter, I'm adding a few slices of spring onion to my version.
For one 9 inch pancake:
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 green onions- finely sliced
Mix together all of the ingredients with a fork until the batter is smooth. Let the batter sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, or for up to a few hours, before proceeding. With oven rack 3-4 inches below the element, preheat the broiler. Put your 9 inch cast iron skillet in the oven while it's preheating. You want your skillet to be smoking' hot. Once the broiler has come to temperature, remove skillet, and carefully add a glug of olive oil, and swirl to coat the bottom. Quickly pour in the batter, and return the pan to the broiler. Cook for 7-10 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Keep an eye on it, it can easily burn if left unattended.
Remove from the oven, and slice and serve.
Camogli is a beautiful little fishing village on the Mediterranean coast about 20km east of Genoa.
There are plenty of things to see and do in the surrounding area. The famous five villages of the Cinque Terre are less than an hour away by train, as are many other lesser known but equally picturesque towns like Portofino and Santa Margherita Ligure. If you are up for an adventure, visit San Fruttuoso Bay, accessible only by boat or steep path, it's home to a perfectly secluded beach and the Abbey of San Fruttuoso di Capodimonte.
Not to mention, the underwater statue of Christ of the Abyss, by Guido Galletti at the bottom of the bay.
Also, The Sagre di Pesce, Camogli's answer to giant fish fry, is held over an entire weekend every May, and like any Italian Sagre, should not be missed.