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Socca de Nice


“With all this wretchedness, one of these peasants will not work in your garden for less than eighteen sols, about eleven-pence sterling, per diem; and then he does not half the work of an English labourer. If there is fruit in it, or any thing he can convey, he will infallibly steal it, if you do not keep a very watchful eye over him. All the common people are thieves and beggars; and I believe this is always the case with people who are extremely indigent and miserable. In other respects, they are seldom guilty of excesses. They are remarkably respectful and submissive to their superiors. The populace of Nice are very quiet and orderly. They are little addicted to drunkenness. I have never heard of one riot since I lived among them; and murder and robbery are altogether unknown. A man may walk alone over the county of Nice, at midnight, without danger of insult. The police is very well regulated. No man is permitted to wear a pistol or dagger, on pain of being sent to the gallies.”

Many things have changed since 1766, when Tobias Smollett wrote of his,Travels through France and Italy; although the prices charged in some of their restaurants could still be conceived as robbery.But there is no doubt that in general the people of Nice are now even nice-r and their contribution to  Provençal cooking is something we should be grateful for.

Socca and Cade are Provençal pancakes that go back at least to 1860. Cade de Toulon, probably the most ancient, was made from corn flour and the Socca de Nice that evolved from it is made from chick-pea flour. The Marseilles version is today made with a mixture of flours, using only a small amount of chick-pea flour; in Marseilles this was called "tourta tota cada", meaning "tourte toute chaude", or nice hot tarts. It was mentioned in 1879 by Frédéric Mistral as "gâteau de farine de maïs qu'on vend par tranches à Marseille" (or in the vulgar tongue "corn-flour cake sold by the slice in Marseilles").

Socca is made on a large round (50-70 cm diameter) copper "pie tin" (plaque) and cooked in a very hot wood-fired oven for about six minutes, until the top is golden. The copper is important for spreading the heat evenly.

Recipe for two 50-cm plaques
300 g chick-pea flour
500 ml water

 2 tbls olive oil

2 Tblsp olive oil

1 teasp salt

pepper
 

Preperation
1. Pre-heat the oven to 300°C (570°F)
2. Pour the cold water into a pot and use a whisk to mix in the olive oil and salt, beating thoroughly to remove any lumps.
The trick is in the batter, which should be slightly more runny than typical crêpe batter (which is thin, like Swedish pancakes).
3. Lightly oil the plaque. Pour the batter through a conical collander onto the plaque, covering it evenly.
4. Slide the plaque into the pre-heated oven and cook until the top browns nicely, possibly even going black where the bubbles rise.
5. Remove, slice and serve hot, peppering to taste.

 

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