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Food History

The taste of Ligurian tradition

Genoese focaccia

Genoese focaccia

For the Genoese, the classic focaccia with oil (Fugassa in genoese dialect) is a myth, a symbol of the city just as the Lanterna of Genoa. The scent of the focaccia can be moved to tears by a Ligurian who lives away from home; is not the usual smell of bread: focaccia is the smell, everything is different, unique.

The focaccia has always been the breakfast of those who woke up at dawn; still it is for many, even for those who wake up later: and the savour, seasoned with oil and salt, deep in cappuccino is a special feeling.

The focaccia can inspire sublime and poetic thoughts even those who have the soul of crock. Vittorio G. Rossi journalist and writer born in Santa Margherita Ligure, in the 1976 described Genoese focaccia like that:

It is our focaccia, nothing to do with the pizzas sprinkled with seasonings; it is one of the simplest things that are there, as simple as the spring water; is flour paste, salt and oil. It is baked in the oven on a triangular iron sheet; has the thickness of a little finger, even less; with the tips of the four fingers of one hand and the four other, the baker covers it of holes; in them, the olive oil is gathered like the tears of crying, but tears of joy.

We have to eat the focaccia just out of the oven; then it burns your hands, has all its oil lively, healthy and warm, and you have to eat it walking slowly, as if you thought of the foundation of the world; and you should not think about anything, just the focaccia that you are eating. And if you are in sight of the sea, it is even better: the focaccia is then also seared of sea.

Focaccia La Lanterna

Focaccia La Lanterna

The focaccia with cheese was born in Recco a little municipality in the city of Genoa. It is a bakery product of the Ligurian cuisine. It prepares the dough with local products: flour, olive oil, water, salt and a good manual in the roll out dough and gently handled.

It is complete by stacking two thin sheets as veils stuffed with a peculiar fresh cheese and baked for a few minutes. The birth of the focaccia di Recco seems to be settled in the twelfth century. According to a document that mentions a preparation offered to the Crusaders departing to the Holy Land. In 1997, Recco Gastronomical Consortium, to regulate the uncontrolled spread of this delicious culinary specialties, presented research on historical texts during the occasion of its trade mark.

Today, the Recco focaccia succeeded in obtaining the Protected Geographical Status, which limits its original production only in the areas of Recco, Sori, and Camogli Avegno (other little towns around the area).

There is also the legend that tells of the terrible Saracen invasions between 1500 and 1600, mandated that women, children and elderly, to take refuge in the hills and survive with what little they had with them. So it was that, according to legend, the traditional focaccia with cheese, cooked on slate stone, was born.

In the late 1800’s opened in Recco the first taverns with kitchen, which offered the cheese focaccia only during the celebration of the Dead (November 2nd). It was the beginning of the twentieth century that the traditional focaccia di Recco was proposed to visitors throughout the years. Since 1955, it takes place every year in Recco, the “Feast of the focaccia” in which restaurants and bakers of the city worked together.

Over the years it was introduced a variation called Pizzata enriched with tomatoes, olives, anchovies, capers and oregano. Appetizing, flavourful and savoury with a rich and decisive taste.

Farinata

Farinata

Farinata is a checkpea flour focaccia based. A legend tells that it was born by chance in 1284, when Genoa defeated Pisa in the battle of Meloria. Genoese galleys full of prisoners found themselves involved in a storm; some oil barrels and sacks of chickpeas toppled, soaking in the salt water.

Because supplies were scarce and there was not much to choose from, the sailors recovered what was possible in bowls of a shapeless pea puree and oil. Some of them refused the pulp and left it in the sun. The mixture became dry in a kind of pancake.

The next day, driven by hunger pains, sailors ate the prepared dried mix discovering its deliciousness. Once back on land, the Genoese thought to improve the improvised discovery and cook the puree in the oven. The result pleased them, and for mocking the defeated, it was called “the gold of Pisa.”

Today Farinata is served plain or with the addition of other fillings like vegies, cheese, meat or fish.

Tomaxelle

Tomaxelle

Tomaxelle are roulades stuffed with meat and rolled, of ancient tradition. Between history and legend, it tells that the dish tomaxelle was a peaceful protagonist during the siege of Genoa of 1800, which saw the French troops held between the British and Austrians, and it was served to the prisoners.

It was born as a typical dish of the day after, the filling was in fact made of leftover roast or similar.

Of course, over time has lost the vocation of recovery and the ingredients have enriched with valuable ingredients such as mushrooms.

Even the sauce in which tomaxelle is cooked suffered variations and enrichments in the centuries: first of all the tomato, which despite Christopher Columbus, arrived very late on our tables, where the sauce was usually white.

Pansoti

Pansoti

The pansoti are a typical stuffed pasta of Ligurian cuisine, it is a particularly tasty recipe loved by all. Their name comes from the Ligurian dialect pansa, in Italian “belly” because of their shape.The “salsa di noci” (walnut sauce) that is typically seasoned, usually is loved also from the children.

Pansoti filling is make from so-called “preboggion” a bunch of wild herbs that changes its components according to the Liguria region in which it is prepared and the season.

The pansoti with walnut sauce were presented for the first time in 1961, in a food festival in Nervi Genoa, from Manuelina sisters, Maria Rosa, and the chef Antonio Ruggero, very well-known personality in the Ligurian cuisine. However, pansoti were quoted already in the Italian Gastronomical Guide of Italian Touring Club, published in 1931.

In Liguria you can enjoy pansoti in Fontanegli festivals, Bogliasco and Ceranesi, three small districts in the east of Genoa, which take place annually during the summer months.

Ligurian olives

Ligurian olives

A mild climate and sea breezes facilitate ligurian olive growing: the fruits born of this plant so special oils, offer a pleasant roundness and delicacy on the palate that is unique in the world.
Liguria is an authority recognized in the production of extra virgin olive oil.

The Taggiasca olive is the best-known variety, which becomes an ambassador of our oil out of the regional and national borders.

The varieties of olives in Liguria are many, their colours go from yellowish green to purplish black with different textures in their pulp.