Focaccia di Recco came into my life one balmy summer evening in a small, unassuming restaurant in downtown Rapallo. Knowing it was a regional specialty, my husband and I ordered it expecting the usual thick, somewhat dense but soft bread that the word focaccia usually refers to. Then the waiter came over and set down this silver plate of what resembled jaggedly cut up, crunchy quesadillas. I tore off a piece and took my first bite. The hot, savory, melted cheese oozed out on all ends of the thin, crispy bread. Simple, yet absolutely scrumptious.
It was pleasure overload.
My eyes lit up with joy. I was absolutely, pleasantly surprised by how yummy was.
After all, I am American and those of us who get lured into Italian culture, are continually shocked by the power of simple ingredients. It’s hard to comprehend how something not smothered in nacho cheese or gravy or ranch dressing (all things I love by the way) can be so tasty!!! (*Note: In the US, the problem is that we are constantly presented with the option to add sauces, condiments, and bacon. Who can resist? On the other hand, Italians fail at making “good” junk food, but that’s a whole other topic I will discuss in a later post!)
Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about its ingredients:
…la focaccia di Recco, secondo la ricetta originale, si compone di due strati sottilissimi di pasta a base di farina e olio di oliva (senza lievito, anche se questo viene elencato in alcuni ricettari), farciti internamente (e non nella parte superiore) con lo stracchino, che ha ormai quasi totalmente surrogato le originarie prescinseûa (ritenuta troppo liquida e acida) e formaggetta. Il formaggio fuso rimane così molto liquido e a volta può fuoriuscire da fessure che con la cottura si vengono a creare nel sottile strato superiore di pasta.
…focaccia di Recco, according to the original recipe, is made up of two thin layers of dough made from flour and olive oil (without yeast, although it appears in some recipes), filled with stracchino cheese, which has ultimately replaced the original prescinseua (thought to be too liquid and sour tasting) and formaggetta. The melted cheese remains liquified, and the top layer of dough is so thin that sometimes it oozes out during the cooking process.
Focaccia di Recco is one of those Italian foods that is yummy enough to warrant a sort of “food patent”, in this case the PGI: Protected Geographical indication (or IGP in Italian), which prohibits any companies from selling copycat products with the same name of lesser quality (another one is DOP, which protects mozzarella di bufala).
In case you were wondering, Recco is a sunny, seaside city in the province of Genoa, but you can find their focaccia throughout the Liguria region. There are also variants where they stuff ham, mushrooms, and tomatoes inside, but trust me, just the cheese is sublime.