Farinata

June 9, 2011 / Food & Wine
Genova, Liguria
Wandering among the narrow caruggi of Genoa’s historical centre you will notice many little shops that sell farinata.

Farinata, nothing more than chickpea flour, water, olive oil and salt, is one of the poorest of all of humankind’s foods and also the oldest traditional Ligurian dish. Believe it or not, the first documentation of the recipe is 2000+ years old?!

In fact, it is said that it was already eaten during antiquity by Ancient Roman soldiers. They prepared a mix of chickpea flour and water and cooked with the sun’s rays on their shields. In this way they managed to eat quickly and cheaply during maneuvers and campaigns.

Nowadays, farinata is cooked in bigger copper pans and even though it is as old as the hills, it still manages to keep it’s position at the top of the list of good things to eat on the Italian Riviera. Not to be missed when you’re next in Liguria!


Anna Merulla

by Anna Merulla

Founder of Beautiful Liguria, a travel concierge service that offers everything from tour planning, hiking excursions, cooking lessons, personal shopping and much more in this great region. In 2009 she decided to begin sharing her personal knowledge of the beauty, the culture, and the history of Liguria in which she’s immersed every day.

11 Responses to “Farinata”

  1. Penny Ewles-Bergeron
    Penny Ewles-Bergeron

    Sounds delicious. I like most foods with chickpea flour – onion bhajis only one example! One day I will make it to Liguria. Thanks for the great note.

    Reply
  2. I have been blessed to eat farinata, made at home, in the hills behind Chiavari. The best is made in a very hot brick oven. Here is the recipe for three very large farinata (about 20 inches across). All measurements are approximate as they usually just add until the mixture looks right. 8 cups of chickpea flour mixed a little at a time into 3 qts. of water. Mix out the lumps. Set aside for about half a day while you make the fire in your woodburning brick oven. Add just a bit of salt (preferably sea salt). Add about 1 1/2 cups Ligurian extra virgin(or other non-flavored subtle olive oil) and just work in, not mixing vigorously. Oil the farinata pan (mine is round, stainless steel, @ 20inches across) and preheat it. Pour the batter into the pan just enough to cover the bottom of the pan and bake in the oven (as hot as your oven will go) until the top is golden brown. Eat when it is hot.

    Reply
    • Marie Castino Ramey

      Hi,
      My Mother’s family lives in the hills above Chiavari, in a little area called Chichero. I love the Farinata. It is a good idea to make it in a black iron skillet?? They ususally put little Ligurian black olives and a sprig of Rosemary on top too. It is one of my favorite dishes in that area.
      MCR

      Reply
  3. Gian Banchero

    Dear Jan, thanks ever so much for your recipe for farinata, just this week I bought ten pounds of chickpea (garbanzo, ceci) flour at a local Indian store here in Berkeley, California, which they call BESAN, making sure it’s fine-ground being the coarse flour doesn’t do well for farinata (some folks call it faina= pronounced faah-eenah), AND AT THIS VERY MOMENT have farinata batter resting in wait for dinner in a few hours. My family in Genova who now buys it more often than making the “bread” does as many times is found at the bakeries and sprinkles finely chopped raw onion on top of the batter before baking and always uses salt and a goodly amount of pepper on the surface, sometimes black, many times white; olive oil is poured over the surface before the farinata is baked… My Genovese relatives have also taught me to use chickpea flour in batters for frying fish or vegetables, this is something done also in Sicily, soooo delicious!!! … Grazie Anna per l’articolo!!

    Reply
  4. Gian Banchero

    P.S. An Argentinian friend just told me that in her homeland that not only do they make farinata (called FAINA there) but place slices of it over pizza, I looked up the practice on the Internet and, yep, it’s true. I’ll try it soon, the flavor just might surprise me and prove really good, at the moment I have a little trepidation… But since enjoying alligator sausages a while back I’ll now try anything these days…

    Reply
  5. Thanks, I plan to try it after I find the flour. I live in the middle of the USA, just a few miles south of Joplin, MO. Where 25% of the business district was destroyed by a tornado last month. The trip there is still depressing. Love your site, it takes me on a small trip to Italy (a mini vacation)!

    Caroline

    Reply
  6. If you can’t find the chickpea flour near you, it can be ordered from BuonItalia on the internet. Sorry, I forgot to note in the recipe to pour the olive oil on top before baking. Also, eat it when it is right out of the oven and very hot as it isn’t very good when it cools. My family doesn’t add any onions but we do sprinkle some grated parmigiano on top after baking sometimes. My family is in the entroterra, the Val Fontanabuona, so, as anywhere in Italy, they have their own version of the recipe.

    Reply

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