Much like everyone else in the world, I am hooked on the American presidential campaign. I have this page bookmarked and check it pretty much every day to see what’s happening with our neighbours to the south. Most of my recommended videos on Youtube right now consist of election-related stuff (…and bread baking). This speech by Seth Meyers (side note: man, I miss him on the Weekend Update) at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner back in 2011 gave me a few good laughs! It seems making fun of Donald Trump is a tradition that will span the ages. On a more grim note, the reality of him clinching the Republican nomination seems almost inevitable at this point, with twice as many delegates as Ted Cruz and John Kasich combined. Speaking of delegates, if the American voting process baffles you slightly (I took an entire seminar on it and still find it confusing at times), this article breaks it down to the basics.
While catching up on the latest primary results, I came across this article from the Washington Post back in September, drawing parallels between the legacies of Trump and previous Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Does a rich, arrogant, racist, misogynistic candidate with
limited zero foreign policy experience sound familiar?
“Like Trump, Berlusconi relied on the fact that Italy’s liberal mainstream would treat him as a joke, using his ugly gaffes as an effective, disruptive campaign strategy to distract both from his lack of well-thought-out policy ideas, as well as his dangerous ignorance on foreign policy. That seems to be Trump’s plan, too.” – Rula Jebreal
Despite the fact that a large percentage of the population in Italy dismissed Berlusconi as a joke, he was met with political success and governed for nine years. Let’s hope this isn’t foreshadowing the future of the United States.
Luckily, Italy has a vibrant culinary landscape that can make anyone forget about these political jesters, at least while preparing dinner. Socca (or farinata) originates in Italy and is commonly eaten as street food seasoned simply with salt and pepper, but I think it would be excellent as a hearty base for a skillet pizza or cut into pieces and dunked into chili. Or maybe some savoury crepes? Chickpea flour, the main ingredient, is pretty rad. It’s gluten free, full of protein, makes a tasty egg replacer on occasion, is quite cheap, and so versatile. You can make this flatbread really fast, which makes it incredibly convenient for nights when you’re feeling a teensy bit lazy. Just whisk, pour, and broil, then top with whatever’s in your fridge. You can even whisk the socca batter together in the morning and it will be ready to go whenever you get home from work #winnerwinnerchickpeadinner
PS It’s the international year of the pulse! Check out these resource for more info on why pulses (dried beans, dried peas, chickpeas, and lentils) are so wonderful:
Global Pulse Confederation
socca with scallions, honeycomb and pine nuts (vegetarian, gluten free)
serves 4-6 as a side
olive oil (1 tablespoon + 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons)
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dijon
manchego, sliced thinly OR a few tablespoons of goat/sheep feta (I tried both, delicious either way!)
a few small pieces of honeycomb
1 cup chickpea flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
Stir together the chickpea flour, water, salt, and olive oil in a medium bowl. Cover and let sit for at least one hour. In a dry cast iron pan over medium heat, toast the pine nuts for a few minutes, then remove to a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the same pan, and saute the scallions with a tiny pinch of chili flakes and salt just until they are starting to colour, about 4-5 minutes. Remove to a plate.
Preheat the oven to 450F with the cast iron skillet on the top third rack. After about 10 minutes take it out of the oven, add 1 tablespoon oil and swirl it around to coat. Add the chickpea batter, lay the scallions on top and push in slightly, then put it back in the oven until it is crispy and golden, 8-9 minutes. Switch to the broiler and cook until the top is nice and crisp (keep a close eye!). Whisk together the remaining olive oil, white wine vinegar, and mustard with some salt and pepper. Toss the arugula with the dressing, pine nuts, cheese, honeycomb and a pinch of salt. Cut the socca into wedges and top with the salad.