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Socca — a crepe-like pancake made from chickpea flour — is associated with the city of Nice.

Margo Lestz, who lives there, wrote an interesting article about it, ‘The Superfood of Nice, southern France: Socca’, for The Good Life France.

She tells us that socca batter was first used as a weapon rather than as a foodstuff:

Legend has it that the recipe for socca was discovered when the Turks attacked the city of Nice in 1543. When they ran out of ammunition, the Niçois mixed hot oil with chickpea soup and poured it down off the top of the walls and onto the heads of the invaders. Apparently, it stopped the invading Turks in their tracks and when the defenders licked their fingers they thought – “Hey, this stuff is pretty good! We could probably even sell it!”

At the turn of the 20th century, vendors went along the coastal thoroughfares with portable ovens on wheels to sell this large pancake, which can serve several people:

These could be taken to the port in the early morning for the fishermen, then later in the day, rolled over to where other labourers were working. It was a nourishing and inexpensive Niçois fast food.

Socca is a perfect gluten-free treat that can be eaten with one’s fingers or a fork.

Socca’nnes

Fortunately, during our recent stay in Cannes, I did not have to journey to Nice to try it. The city’s Marché Forville has a socca stand run by Socca’nnes. The chap pictured here and a lady run it. She takes the orders. He does the cooking.

It doesn’t take long for the socca to bake in what looks like a huge portable pizza oven that is blazing hot. The huge pan is coated with olive oil and heated before the batter is ladled on. You can watch the chickpea flour batter batter bubble up and brown on top to make it a bit crispy. The interior is moist and unctuous.

The lady cuts the huge pancake into several portions, then cuts each one further into Chicago box cut squares. (Actually, this is a Sicilian method of portioning pizza.) My far better half and I shared a portion at lunchtime. It truly was filling, so I can understand socca’s popularity.

My only complaint was that it did not have enough salt. I asked for some, and the lady said the batter had enough salt in it already. Uh huh. I declined the offer of additional black pepper.

Each portion was €2.50.

Socca’nnes is at Marché Forville from Tuesday through Sunday all year round. They also have an at-home service available on Mondays and after 4 p.m. on market days. Find out more here.

Socca Chips

Our experience with socca actually started with Socca Chips, which are sold in Cannes supermarkets.

A restaurateur by the name of Luc Salsedo invented Socca Chips. Not wishing for any leftover batter to go to waste, he began experimenting by making wafer-thin chips. He tested various flavour combinations with his customers.

He began making them commercially in 2014 in Saint André de la Roche, just outside of Nice. The three varieties — plain, garlic and rosemary — have been so successful that he closed his restaurant the following year to devote his time to Socca Chips.

Socca Chips has a short video demonstrating how real socca is made. At the end, you can see the comparison between the socca on the plate and the chips in the bowl:

This next video features a 2017 clip from France 3 Côte d’Azur’s popular programme, Enquêtes de région. It shows Luc Salsedo making Socca Chips deliveries to specialist food shops in Nice and ends with his manufacturing plant. The shopkeepers say that everyone loves Socca Chips. One man says that he no longer eats potato crisps because Socca Chips are much better in every way:

We agree. In fact, we also prefer them to tortilla chips.

One small complaint: not enough salt!

We prefer the garlic ones to the plain, although the former could use a touch more garlic. We did not try the rosemary ones.

A 120g bag serves four people as a snack. Prices range from €3.89 to €4.17 a bag, depending on the supermarket. They were cheapest at Carrefour.

In closing, this short video features specialities from Nice. Socca appears at the beginning and at 4:28 Luc Salsedo grants the film crew a tour of parts of his factory. You won’t see how the chips are made, though, which is probably a closely guarded secret:

I wish we had had room in our luggage to bring back more Socca Chips! Unfortunately, they are not yet sold in the UK!

Many people suffer from gluten intolerance.

When I say ‘suffer’, they really do, because they would love to eat the food that everyone else does, from pastries to bread.

Where bread is concerned, a number of websites have recipes for gluten-free sourdough starter along with suggested gluten-free flours.

Some gluten-free bakers say not to use millet in sourdough starters. However, Natasa Djuric from Slovenia uses it and even has a tabletop flour mill. She makes her own flour. See how she and her boyfriend worked with the starter. In this video, she walks us through his recipe for millet bread with millet starter.

In a guest post for Sourdough Surprises, Djuric discusses the different types of gluten-free flour, binding agents and equipment you will need for this type of sourdough starter. Djuric prefers making her own flour with the tabletop mill because grains are cheaper and the flour ferments more quickly.

Jeanne at Art of Gluten-Free Baking has two helpful posts beginners will be interested in: ‘Sourdough Starter: Gluten-Free’ and ‘Sourdough Starter/Bread (Gluten-Free) Troubleshooting FAQ’. Jeanne politely requests that people read her recipes and follow her processes thoroughly before writing in with questions.

Whole New Mom has a great post on how to make gluten-free starter. She also explains the nutritional benefits of sourdough.

And, finally, The Art of Gluten-free Sourdough Baking has an excellent post on making and maintaining gluten-free sourdough in a cold kitchen.

Please note that I do not have any personal experience with these flours. If you have questions, please visit the sites and ask the authors. Thanks!

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