Culinary Ambassadors: Street Food in the South of France - Socca
Serious Eats' Culinary Ambassadors check in from time to time with reports on food fare in their homeland or countries of residence. Here's the latest! (Find out more about CA or join here!) —The Mgmt.
Depending on which part of France you're in, the regional street food varies. The northwest has its crépes with cider, the Alps has raclette, and along the Côte d'Azur in the south, socca is one of the most popular street foods of choice. Mostly found in Nice, this savoury snack is served in cafés specializing in Niçoise cuisine and at market stalls in the Cours Saleya. Sadly, it's ignored by most tourists who have either never heard of it or are too scared to try it, which is such a shame as it is a light and tasty snack to satisfy those mid-morning hunger pangs (or to line your stomach before hitting the gelato bars).
It is prepared by mixing together a thin batter of chickpea flour, water, olive oil, and salt, all ladled onto a hot cast iron plate (ranging from dinner-plate size to more than a meter in diameter), where it is spread to the edges much like a crépe. It's then grilled in an oven (wood-fired being the preference) for 20 to 30 minutes, where it develops a nicely charred crust, and is then served by cutting it into strips. A generous glug of olive oil and a shake of black pepper finishes it off, and then it's ready to be eaten hot or cold as an "apéro," or appetizer, with a chilled glass of rosé. You can even make it in your own kitchen using a cast iron skillet in the oven to bring a bit of the south of France home.
I usually eat this at least once a week, if not more when I'm meeting up with friends or family for a drink or at the market when I'm feeling peckish. Summer seems to be the most popular time to snack on socca, as the hot weather provides the perfect atmosphere to sit down for a premeal drink and an appetizer.
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