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In standard Italian, the dish is called "farinata" 'made of flour', in Genoese dialect fainâ. In Nice and the Côte d'Azur, it is called "socca", and in Tuscany, "cecina" 'made of chickpeas'. In Argentina and Uruguay it is known as fainá or faina.
It is made by stirring chickpea flour into a mixture of water and olive oil to form a loose batter, and baking it in the open oven. A tin-plated copper baking-pan is used. Farinata may be seasoned with fresh rosemary, pepper and sea salt. Traditionally farinata is cut into irregularly shaped triangular slices, and enjoyed (with no toppings) on small plates with optional black pepper. Elsewhere in Italy (traditionally in Tuscany, where it is called cecina (from the Italian word for chickpea, ceci), it is served stuffed into small focaccia (mainly in Pisa) or between two slices of bread, as it is traditional in Livorno. It is sold in pizzerias and bakeries.
On the Tuscan coast, south of Liguria, especially in the province of Pisa, Livorno, Lucca, Massa Carrara cecina or, in Livorno, Torta (di ceci) (Chickpea pie) is baked (with no rosemary used for toppings).
In Savona province (near Genoa), a version of farinata called farinata bianca (white farinata) is used. It is made with wheat flour instead of chickpeas flour.
The name Panissa or Paniscia in Genoese indicates a solidified polenta-like paste, made with the same ingredients as farinata, which can then be cut into strips to be fried, assuming the name panissette.
In Genoa, variants of the farinata include sometimes onions or artichokes, but the most famous derivative recipe is the fainâ co i gianchetti (farinata with whitebait), at times hard to find due to fishing regulations, but traditionally seen as the quintessential fainâ.
Socca is a specialty of southeastern French cuisine, particularly in and around the city of Nice. Its primary ingredients are chickpea flour and olive oil. After being formed into a flat cake and baked in an oven, often on a cast iron pan more than a meter in diameter, the socca is seasoned generously with black pepper and eaten while hot with the fingers.
Beyond the Ligurian Sea
In Argentina and Uruguay (where many thousands of Ligurian people emigrated between the 19th and the 20th centuries) farinata is known as fainá, similar to the original Genoese name fainâ. It is often eaten on top of pizza (a caballo).
In Uruguay, olive oil is very seldom or never used to make fainá. It is very expensive and not used much in Uruguayan cooking, so more common types of oil such as sunflower, canola, corn, and soybean oils are used. For people accustomed to olive oil fainá, the taste can be quite different.
In Gibraltar, where a significant portion of its population is of Genoese origin, it is known as calentita when it is baked or panissa when it is fried. They are typically eaten plain, without any toppings. These are considered to be Gibraltar's national dishes.
In India, the dal (the word for pulses) "chila" (pronounced "cheela") or besan (the word for chickpea flour) "puda" (pronounced "poora"), depending on the region, is a similar dish made by cooking chickpea (or another pulse) flour and water on an oiled skillet. Vegetables such as onions, green chillies, cabbage and herbs and spices such as coriander are also added in certain versions of the preparation.
Media related to Socca at Wikimedia Commons