What is Belicada
The Belicada is a Farinata made of garbanzo (chickpea) beans flour typical of Nizza Monferrato, a small town in the province of Asti, about 40 miles south of Turin.
The Belicada, like Farinata, is a kind of vegan pancake or crepe, prepared only with garbanzo flour, water, extra virgin olive oil, salt and seasoned to taste with rosemary or pepper.
The tradition of Farinata in Italy
Farinata is a widespread dish in Italy. Its common name in Italian is Farinata but it has many names in the different Italian dialects and regions: fainâ, farinata, socca, belicada, cecina, torta di ceci.
According to some sources the farinata would be originally from Genoa, in Liguria, and then spread throughout the Mediterranean, not only in Italy but also in the Côte d’Azur (France) e in Algeria. Then with the migration Farinata came to the Americas in Uruguay and Argentina.
In Italy some of the original variety of Farinata are from:
– Genoa and Savona, called panissa or paniscia (not to confuse with the panissa and paniscia Piemonte traditional dishes). Sometimes the farinata cooked in the oven is cut into strips and fried and it is called panisette.
– Nizza Monferrato and Novi Ligure, the Belicada, seasoned with pepper and salt
– Tuscany like Torta di Ceci or Cecina, sprinkled with rosemary before baking
– Sassari in Sardinia, called fainé genoese
Where to eat in Italy
You can usually find the farinata in pizzeria. Many Italians love to eat farinata servings (a serving is a slice about a quarter or a sixth of a large baking pan of farinata) before eating pizza.
Recently there has been widespread use to eat farinata as finger food, and you can find it in some street food shops, along with piadina, crepes or sandwiches.
Garbanzo beans in Piemonte
The cultivation of chickpea was widespread in Piedmont. Arriving from the east the cultivation of chickpea spread throughout the Tanaro Valley and other areas of the Piedmont. Its use has been widespread due to the fact that the chickpeas are very nutrient and cheaper than meat, two main factors in the past.
The ancient and still cultivated cultivars of garbanzo beans are mainly two:
– Cece of Merella (garbanzo bean of Merella). In the Alessandria area is well known for Cece of Merella. Merella is a village in the municipality of Novi Ligure. Is sown along the river Scrivia in March and harvested in July. Cece of Merella is used for farinata in Novi Ligure, a territory long under the control of the Genoese in the past, and for soups and mashed.
– Cece of Nucetto (garbanzo bean of Nucetto). Nucetto is a town in the province of Cuneo which is located in the upper Valle Tanaro. The chickpea is grown using methods of Nucetto natural and organic. It has a very sweet taste and is suitable for sweet and savory preparations