Socca–torta di ceci, pois chiches, Farinata:
Origin – Genoa, Italy
“Street food is not fast food in Nice, and this is a local favorite. Socca is a traditional snack patterned after a crêpe or pancake made of chickpea flour. Chickpea flour came from the Ligurian region of Italy, first starting as corn flour, making it gluten free.
Simple to make at home.
Simple to make, and you don’t need a wood-fired oven to make socca. Historians write that the socca sellers made it as the morning meal for laborers at their work sites. An inexpensive treat served on a paper plate or in a paper cone to absorb some of the oil. Socca doesn’t taste good cold, so don’t reheat it. This treat hits the spot… especially with a glass of local rosé from Côtes de Provence.” from “girl lost – found in France!
Socca merchant Nice Belle époch
You shouldn’t be surprised that socca is from Italy. Many people just don’t know that Nice, France was part of Italy until 1860. Italy is roughy 20 miles from the heart of Nice. So it’s only fitting that a treat like socca never left this area of France. As I often say; discovered by the Italians with the credit going to the French.
Socca is chickpea flour that is found in Mediterranean cuisine and is a legume. Healthy and packed with protein. Also known as gram flour and garbanzo bean flour.
According to Dr. Axe; Chickpea flour is heart healthy, a great source of fiber, lowers inflammation, and beneficial for digestion. All these benefits help out in our weight balance.
You can take it or leave it; love it or hate it. I love it so much that I make it at home. It is a great aperitif snack, or even a late evening treat. It beats chips in a bag.
There are many recipes where the cook feels compelled to add stuff, like jam, and I wonder why we have to put sugar on everything! It doesn’t need anything.
Guess who likes socca?
Although, Gwyneth Paltrow makes it healthy like a mini-pizza and that’s fine because it is gluten free (replaces flour) and you can throw any ingredient on the top.
I like it plain with a tiny bit of cracked pepper, and that’s how they serve it in Nice. Keep it simple which will bring out the flavor of the chickpea flour. Why alter that unusual taste? Less ingredients means more flavor with socca.
There are a couple of places in Old Town Nice. Chez Thérésa in the Cours Selaya market. Then there is Chez Pippo (below), which is a couple blocks from the Port with tons of charm.
Check out the vat of olive oil here and red hot oven!
At the edge of Old town is René Socca (where the line is long because they serve other local specialties) with a large choice here for pizza and fried fritters. My favorite for socca.
Love the way they scrape the pan for your portion.
Wood fired oven
Here is a simple recipe for your home oven. The mixture for the batter is the same whether you make it in the oven or stove-top. 12-inch flat pizza tray (warmed), well oiled.
2/3 cup of chickpea flour (farine de pois chiches)
3–4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 cup of cold water
Salt and pepper
Blend the flour, salt, oil, and water together. Cover and let stand 1–2 hours so the flour can absorb the water. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees or higher for 30 minutes before baking the crêpe. Smear a liberal amount of oil on a warmed baking tray, and pour the chickpea batter into the pan to about 1/8 of an inch thick. Use a sieve if the batter is lumpy. Drizzle 2–3 tablespoons of oil on top of the batter. Place pan in the oven for 8–10 minutes until crêpe appears set. Rotate the pan a couple of times. At the last minute, put the pan under the broiler to blister the top to a golden brown. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.
After I wrote this post:
I took the bus to René Socca…I was drooling for socca. It was a Sunday and I thought they would be closed. To my surprise they were open and I had to have a plate to show you first hand. (Plates are offered when you sit instead of emporter.)
It had been a couple of years since my last visit and it was better than I had remembered because they put more batter in their socca. A lot thicker than other places. It was hot and crispy, just a bit creamy inside…. and I ordered a beer. Hey it was 80 degrees out! If you want to sit on the terrace you have to order wine or beer. It hit the spot. Only 3€.
Don’t miss out on having this wonderful treat in Nice, France.
Bon appétit or buon appetite!