Mode of Transport: Socca
Socca is famous for being a street food in Nice. My family, however, had our very first bite of Socca in Antibes. It was August 15, 2012, and it was our third day in Antibes. So far, the trip had been a non-stop eating fest for us. That day was already our third time at the Marché Provençal (Provence Market) but it was the first time we went there during the daytime.
The Marché Provençal is a day and night market. During the daytime, it is set up just like any market with fresh produce, meats, flowers, spices and many other things. At night, the restaurants surrounding the market set up outdoor seating space for diners.
The atmosphere during the day is completely different from that of the night, which is wonderful and is the reason we came to this market again and again. The morning of August 15, we decided to see the market very early, and there were wonderful spices, fruits, vegetables and even soaps. At the end of the market, we saw a huge line forming in front of a street vendor selling Socca, which is a flat pancake made with chickpeas and olive oil. I had heard about Socca during my research for this trip and knew that I would get a chance to eat it in Nice, but we hadn’t reached Nice yet. Seeing this line of people for Socca and smelling the scent in the air, we decided to join the ranks of hungry customers.
Andrew lined up while I stood aside to take pictures of him buying the Socca. It was coming out of an oven, each one was served fresh. The vendor sprinkled it with something – I think paprika? Then cut up the round Socca into smaller triangular shapes and served it in foil and wax paper to us. It was so hot to touch, I had to be patient – which was very hard.
It was a bit crunchy and soft as well. So delicious, simple and delicate, so good that we couldn’t put it down to take a picture. We each had one and finished them within minutes. I was so happy that Bailey liked it too because it’s healthy, being made with chickpeas.
We own Mark Bittman’s giant book How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food, p. 633, he describes Socca: “The chickpea pancake is a classic throughout Provence and Liguria, where it’s called socca and farinata, respectively, and has been made for hundreds of years. Traditionally cooked in wood-or coal-burning ovens – in France on disk-shaped copper plates called plaques.” Andrew, Bailey and I will be going to Cinque Terre, which is part of Liguria, this July, you bet we’ll be trying the farinata when we get there. OH YES!
On further research, a website beyond says that Socca dates back to at least 1860 and the Socca sellers have been selling them in marchés (markets) since then to workers on worksites. Nowadays, it seems tourists are the #1 customers.
Both Mark Bittman’s book and beyond include a recipe, but I dare not try it yet… So Andrew, Bailey, my godson and I went on a search for Socca in NYC. Surprisingly, Socca is not served in many restaurants or food trucks in Manhattan!?
We did manage to find a restaurant called Nizza in Hell’s Kitchen on 44th and 9th Avenue that does serve it. As I suspected from the name of the restaurant, Nizza is like Nice, France, and they describe themselves as an Italian restaurant with French accents- very indicative of Nice, which is right on the French border.
We ordered the Socca, theirs of which included more ingredients than the original. Nizza added sage, onions and pecorino in their version, which is served like a small pizza, on a plate. Since it’s a restaurant, I guess that’s acceptable.
It smelled so good with the onions! The Socca at Nizza was thicker than the Socca I had at Marché Provençal. It was crunchy on the edges, soft in the middle and actually the onions were very good with it.
The pecorino I could have done without but my favorite addition to this was the sage, which was also crispy. I do like the Socca better the original way, but this is a good enough substitute to transport me to Antibes.
What surprises me is that there is no food truck or street vendor that sells Socca in NYC! I hope there is someone thinking of starting a Socca food truck soon. I see dozens of crepes trucks everywhere; let’s think Socca instead. It’s time! I promise to be a good customer!
Have you had Socca? Did you have it in Nice, Antibes or some other town in Provence ? Let me know in the comments. If you liked this “dish,” please share the post with your friends and make sure to sign up for me e-mail updates below so we can dream about travel together. I really appreciate it.
Short Travel Guides to Antibes
Getting to Antibes:
We took the local train from Arles to Antibes, it took about 3 1/2 hours. The fare was 40Euros per person.
Staying in Antibes:
La Place D’Antibes Hotel | Dish Our Town