Thursday, 20 October 2011

GENOVA SOUL FOOD: THE ART OF FOCACCIA MAKING (AND TASTING)

The gourmet magic of Liguria’s street food also shows in the name “sciamadda”, the eating joint where this heavenly fare has been prepared (and gulped) for centuries: not only does “sciamadda” evoke the scent of cuculli (deep-fried chick pea polenta quenelles), frisceu (fritters mainly based on vegetables or fish – locals go for baccalà - salted cod - frisceu) and mouthwatering chick-pea farinata, but it also reminds us of the pivotal role of fire (sciamaa is the Genoese for flame) in the history of cooking. This also applies – appropriately - to the queen of regional soul food, the one and only Focaccia Genovese, whose etymology clearly hints to Latin “focus” (hearth). This gastronomic masterpiece is in fact baked in the oven with the most fundamental Mediterranean ingredients: flour, extra virgin olive oil, salt and water (not to forget active yeast and malt extract). It takes all the artistry and patience of local bakers to produce excellent focaccia, crisp and supple at the same time, skillfully puckered by finger indentations, adequately leavened and processed, its perfume addictive. As for smell, just one sniff and any Ligurian can detect the tiniest trace of execrated “strutto” (reduced pork fat), used by the unorthodox to preserve softness (at the expenses of digestibility…) for several hours. But the Genoese know their way through the “caruggi” (alleys) of the historical centre, and plan rewarding focaccia safaris amidst hole-in-the-wall “panetterie” (bakers’) that prepare this gourmet treat (and its variants – sage, onions, olives…) all day long. Focaccia is in fact an all purpose aliment, fit to accompany meals (remember, breakfast is the time for cappuccino and focaccia con le cipolle, onion focaccia), snacks and happy hour cocktails. As for night owls, they do enjoy the pleasure of eating their slab of piping hot focaccia in the small hours of the morning before going home.
Focaccia is the protagonist of “Genova Soul Food”: designed by Ligucibario (in collaboration with Ascom Genova and Iscot Liguria), “Genova Soul Food” provides travellers with an array of tourist resources (accommodation, services, shopping tours…) and hands on experiences focusing on the art of focaccia making, tasting and pairing.
Contact Ligucibario info@ligucibario.com for further information.

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