Allyson Gofton - Bread's an Italian staple

Publish Date
Friday, 12 September 2014, 12:00AM
By Allyson Gofton

In Italy, as in many European countries, bread is central to social life and has a prized place on the table at most meals.  Each region has its own specialty bread, but the ones that have become most popular here are probably Foccacia and Ciabatta, from the Venice region – though I sometimes wonder if the Italians would recognise some of the somewhat gross “ciabatta” served in our cafés as panini, the Italian name for a small ciabatta loaf!

Ciabatta means ‘slipper’ in Italian and describes the appearance of this oval, flattish yeast bread with an open texture and a crisp, floury crust. It is flavoured with olive oil and toasts well. Ciabatta is often used as the base for bruschetta.

While ciabatta is a comparatively new type of bread, created in the early 1980s when Italian bakers were concerned that so many sandwiches in their country were being served in imported French baguettes, the origins of Focaccia is thought to have originated in ancient times.

Focaccia with tomato and mushroom paste (pictured)
This is an ideal nibble for starters or could be part of a picnic or Italian buffet.  

Feta with grilled pears on bruschetta
This is a delicious variation on traditional bruschetta.

Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you