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La farinata, queen of poor yet reach in flavor cuisine

Don’t call it “cecina”, nor “torta”, or “caldacalda”: there are manydishes made from chickpea flour throughout Italy, but here it is called Farinata (fainà).

And here it is much more than a simple dish: in La Spezia cooking, farinata is a real landmark, a piece of the tradition around which – as is it true for Mesciüa and much more for the Focaccia – is built the identity of La Spezia cuisine.

Farinata di ceci what is? The queen of the local poor cuisine

A simple dish, that still requires a very long preparation if properly prepared, the farinata is made of few essential ingredients: chickpea flour, water, salt, and oil.

Diluted the chickpea flour in abundant water with salt added, the mixture is left to stand for two to 10 hours, stirring occasionally to dissolve the clots.
The time of cooking is essential. A heated greased baking tray (for the original preparation it must be made of copper) with olive oil, the mixture poured and put in the high-temperature oven (the rule is that the oven is in wood).

Farinata for purists cannot be otherwise than plain, with no other seasonings than a little pepper, yet with time many have enriched the local dish with the most varied ingredients: from onions with courgette flowers, soft cheese or with pesto.

Farinata topped with Colonnata lard

Disputed origins: the Farinata was born in war

Today there is a great dispute about the birth of farinata: the real recipe is that of Pisa or Livorno? The Nicoise one, the Sardinian or the Ligurian?

In this battle, interestingly enough, everybody agrees farinata was born in war.
Although there are traces of Greek and Latin recipes puree of chickpeas and beans cooked in the oven, it is said that the first Farinata was born in 1284 during the battle of Meloria between the maritime republics of Genoa and Pisa.

The Genoese galleys, engaged in the battle, were involved in a storm. During the commotion, the supplies eventually spill: some bags of chickpeas flour was now wasted in saltwater. So as not to waste the few provisions, the mix was served to the crew: a puree of chickpeas flour and oil.
Some refused to eat it and left it to dry in the heat of the sun.
They had discovered gold, which once back on dry land was improved by cooking in the oven.
To commemorate the victory over Pisa, the pot – as a mock for the enemy – was called “the gold of Pisa”.
But we know it has only one name: Farinata.

Where to eat Farinata in La Spezia?

In town and surroundings, almost all pizzerias serve Farinata, of which you normally eat a few slices as entrance before the Pizza. Among the best places to eat pizza we report:

  • La Pia (via Magenta, 0187 739 999): born in the quaint Via Magenta Pizzeria has now other across branches across the province. 
    With a hundred years of history, the local Magenta street is a must visit to breathe an authentical Spezia atmosphere. Enjoying Farinata and pizza slices on the spot, in a simple room with tables close together have a different flavor.
  • Il Capolinea (via Rebocco 58, tel. 0187701250): on the outskirts of the city, it is a veritable temple of farinata. 
    Here you find it plain or enriched with various ingredients of the season. If there’s one place you can enjoy Farinata, this is it. Continuing the family tradition, one of the sons of the manager opened the pizzeria Capolinea 2.0 (via Sarzana 217, t. 980 474 0187). Here the Farinata has little to envy to the parental one and they also serve white Farinata (made with 00 flour ), following the recipe of Savona.
  • Pagni (via Sarzana 12, t. 0187 503019): take away pizzeria. According to many locals, the best Farinata in town.
Pizza and Farinata slices at La Pia in La Spezia city centre
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