Argentina 101: pizza and fainá

marguerita

As with any country with such a strong culture of immigration, Argentina´s food is a mixture of different cuisines… though the one that clearly wins the race is Italian food, followed by Spanish food.
I know that for all of you, pizza is as common as burgers, but I also know that most of you probably never heard of something called “fainá” in Argentina (from the Genovese dialect) and “farinata” in the rest of Italy.
It´s like a “secondary pizza” used to go with the regular pizza which is made of chickpea flour and seasoned with pepper, sometimes dried onions, a bit of parmessan, etc.

faina

It´s moist inside and crunchy outside and makes for a great complement to pizza. It can even be topped with pretty much anything and used as a pizza base (I have had it with dried tomatoes, garlic and some parmessan flakes and it is wonderful).

Since I cheated and bought a premixed base of garbanzo/chickpea flour and dried onions, I can´t abide by the recipe I´m about to give you, but it does come from an Italian site, so it should be good, right? ;)

marguerita

This is what made me turn on the oven when it was 95°F/35°C outside, so if that doesn´t show this is a winning combination, I don´t know what will.

Besides, millions of Italians can go wrong when it comes to choosing a president, but not when it comes to food!!! lol

faina

Fainá or Farinata (adapted from here)[See another interesting recipe at Recipe Zaar]

Ingredients:
• 3 3/4 cups water
• 2 1/3 cups Italian chick pea flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• rosemary (optional)
• 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• ground pepper
• parmessan cheese (4 tablespoons)
• onion powder (around 2 tablespoons)

Preparation:
1. Mix the water and the flour with a wooden spoon or a whisk; make sure there are no lumps, add salt to taste, and mix again.
2. Add the rosemary, the parmessan cheese and the onion powder and let it sit for a while (one to three hours or even better overnight).
3. At this point add the olive oil. Remove the rosemary and pour in a baking pan.
It should be about an eighth of an inch thick, perhaps a little more. Put it in a preheated oven at 190-200° C (375-400° F). [I have found some recipes that say you should put the pan in your pizza stone or the hottest part of your oven for 15 minutes and then put it in a colder spot, usually the middle or the top, for 20 minutes more].
4. Remove from the oven when one of the corners (or the edge) starts to appear dark. Sprinkle plenty of pepper and serve.
It is of paramount importance that the pan is perfectly flat and level when in the oven, otherwise one of the corners will be thicker and will be undercooked when the opposite corner starts to darken.

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29 Comments

Filed under Argentina, food, savory

29 responses to “Argentina 101: pizza and fainá

  1. Seattle Tall Poppy

    This looks great! I was just looking at chick pea flour yesterday thinking…what do you make with that??? Thanks for being such a great inspiration. I can’t wait to get back in the kitchen and play!

  2. Kristenhttp://dineanddish.squarespace.com

    What a lovely looking pizza!

  3. Marce

    Seattle tall poppy- You are welcome! I know, that´s the only use I know for chickpea flour so far…maybe I´ll investigate to see what else can be done with it.

    Kristen- Thank you! I was feeling like eating a very simple pizza, so I went for a typical marguerita with tons of herbs, it hit the spot.

  4. Terry Bbluekitchen.wordpress.com

    Lovely to learn a little bit about Argentina, thanks to you! I think any country that welcomes immigrants becomes infinitely richer culturally for doing so. Here in the U.S., especially in larger urban centers like my Chicago, we enjoy a fabulous international buffet thanks to all the immigrants who’ve settled here.

    Regarding the pan and even cooking, it’s important to use a decent pan–otherwise warping can be the culprit, even if your stove is level.

  5. aha! The Italian influence in Argentina rules! My husband often talks about the many Italians who emigrated to Argentina!

  6. Hi Marce,

    Thanks for leading me to your farinata recipe. It’s one of the easiest and yummiest Italian dishes I know. Where in Italy is your family from?

    Cheers,
    -Helen

  7. Terry- Thanks. I definitely agree regarding countries growing culturally thanks to immigration. I think it just forces people to be more open-minded, which is great.
    Regarding the pan, mine was actually quite good and brand new, so I think the problem was that it was too big, and actually most people like farinata very thin, I just like mine a little thicker so I´ll keep that in mind next time.

    Ilva- Yeah, we received a huuuuuuge immigration wave from Italy a few decades before and during WWII. Italians and Spaniards formed the backbone of the population. Do try farinata with pizza, it´s an awesome combination. I´m gonna try your chickpea fritatta soon.

    Helen- Yeah, fainá is great and apparently unknown in most of the world, even the US with its huge Italian influence. Most of my family is from Carbonera, Treviso, which is in the Veneto region. Actually 2 of my grandparents came from Italy in the late 1940´s.

  8. Ben

    What do you mean by remove the rosemary? Are you supposed to strain it out and why?

  9. Ben- Now that I think about it, I do think that looks a bit weird. As I said, I didn´t use this recipe myself that time because I used a fainá mix I had bought, though I am planning of trying it soon.
    What seems to be the idea of the recipe is to add the fresh rosemary stick and let it sit for a while so it adds an extra flavor, and then remove it before baking (maybe because it could get burned in the oven). It does sound a bit weird though, so I´d say either use rosemary (without the stick) and bake it with the fainá, or don´t use it at all, I didn´t and with the parmessan and the onion powder, it´s still delicious, especially if you add some toppings or eat it with a slice of pizza as we do here.

  10. Pingback: Pizza Napolitana, and the yellow thing under it « Wish You Were Here!

  11. Holly

    Just left a second update on my post after reading your comment… now I feel terrible for maligning fainá, clearly a food worthy of more respect!

    Thanks for setting me straight!
    Holly

  12. Susie

    The pizza looks great. I actually thought that the chickpea flour was used to make that great looking pizza. Now that I realize it’s not, that’s a bummer.
    Why would a chickpea flatbread go good with pizza when pizza is a flatbread?
    Doesn’t make any sense to me?

  13. Dan

    Hey, are there any places in BsAs you would recommend for trying faina?

    We started our trip in Italy and had some wonderful farinata along the Ligurian coast (topped with arugula and brie)… and we’ve been craving more since.

    Now we’re in San Telmo (near La Boca)… so if you have a place to recommend, we’ll check it out for sure.

    Thanks!

  14. Dee

    Hi,my husband comes from uruguay and when we visited relatives his mother had made some faina and we all loved it ,so thanks for the recipe ,I can,t wait to give it a try.Dee Australia

  15. Lil'leaf

    Hi, where do you get your faina mix??? I’m attempting the recipe above at this moment. I chopped the rosemary and mixed it in.

  16. My husband and I spent last year traveling the world and visited both Italy and Argentina. We absolutely love the farinata we had in Italy, topped with argula and brie. When we were seeking out good pizza in Argentina, we discovered their version of farinata, faina. We were not so impressed with that. Thanks for posting the recipe, I am excited to try it out. For Dan who is currently in San Telmo, we went to this pizza place in LaBoca that was highly recommended by our moon handbook guide. I can’t remember the name, but it’s a big pizza place that has been around for a while and is genovese. Maybe we just ordered the wrong thing but it was terrible pizza and the faina was nothing like the farinata we had in Italy. Our trip blog is http://www.vivarobusto.blogspot.com. I’m curious to hear what you think of the faina you find in Buenos Aires.

    Liz

    • talanca

      I assume the place in La Boca was “Banchero”.
      An old pizzeria located on a corner (Alte. Brown Ave.) with a Genovese tradition since well before the WWII.
      It’s strange anyway that you found the pizza and fainá bad, since in my opinion that’s one of the best (if not the best) places in B.A. for having pizza (tho’ maybe the Argentinian variation of the Italian pizza) and fainá.
      Their fainá is just perfect. The only other place where I found fainá like the one I used to have at “Banchero” is Chez Pipo, in Nice (France) where they called it “socca” instead of fainá. Check this: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives/2008/06/the_best_socca.html

      Cheers, M.

  17. Mil gracias !! your presentation is excelent and also the pictures of your delicious foods. I am originaly From Bs. As. Argentina ; living in Phoenix Arizona since 1971. I own Fellini’s Pizzeria and thank you for remaind me abaout “faina”!!…I shall star offering faina to my costumers. Eduardo Haramina.

    • susy

      Eduardo, I live in both Monserrat and in Tucson. Is 0000 flour available in the US? I pack it in my suitcase along with faina and pasta, etc. I miss the food in Buenos Aires more than anything else. That is the hardest adjustment for me when in the US.

  18. Susan Leah

    this did not help at all

  19. Rita S.

    We first ate fainá at an Argentinian Pizza place in Pompano Beach, Florida. It was served as an appetizer while we waited for our pizza and was seasoned only with freshly ground black pepper. It didn’t need aanything else. The fainá was thin, hot, freshly made and delicious. I am still looking for the perfect recipe and wondering if I can make garbanzo flour by grinding dried garbanzos in a food processor.

  20. Rita S.

    We first ate fainá at an Argentinian Pizza place in Pompano Beach, Florida. It was served as an appetizer while we waited for our pizza and was seasoned only with freshly ground black pepper. It didn’t need anything else. The fainá was thin, hot, freshly made and delicious. I am still looking for the perfect recipe and wondering if I can make garbanzo flour by grinding dried garbanzos in a food processor.

    • Marcela Orcali

      I haven’t tried that myself, but maybe it’ll work. I don’t think it’s that hard to find in general. You could check online. let me know how it goes :) Or you could just come down to buenos aires and have some lol

      Marce

      Sent from my iPod

  21. oh, wow this the best way to eat pizza. I miss this shit =[ it makes me wanna back so bad…

  22. susy

    The faina is laid on top of the pizza “a caballo” (on horseback) and eaten together. The best pizza in the world across the street from me in Monserrat, Buenos Aires at Pizzeria Mazacote. The flour they use is not available in the US and probably not in Italy or Sicily either. I am not a pizza lover but I can’t get enough of Argentine pizza!

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  24. Al

    The origin of faina is Liguria, Italy. Chickpea flour is easy to get in the USA. Just look in the Indian food section of your grocery store if the have one or any oriental market. It goes by the name of Graham flour.

  25. Don’t confuse Gram Flour (chickpea) with Graham Flour (wheat).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gram_flour

  26. I almost never leave a response, but after browsing through a few of the responses on Argentina 101:
    pizza and fainá | Pip in the city. I do have
    a few questions for you if it’s allright. Could it be just me or does it
    appear like a few of the responses come across like they are left by brain dead people? :-P And, if you are posting at other social sites, I’d like to follow everything fresh you have to
    post. Would you post a list of all of all your social community pages like
    your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

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