Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Can I tell you a secret? The focaccia I made the other day? It wasn't very good. The recipe I used was actually meant for Meyer lemons, which are sweeter than regular lemons, but since I had such an overabundance of lemons from my yard, I thought I'd give it a try anyway. The result wasn't horrible - the bread itself had a delightful texture and a caramelized, lemon-y flavor that was lightly perfumed with rosemary - but upon biting into one of the slices of lemon baked onto the top, I was greeted with an acidic, bitter aftertaste. I would guess that Meyer lemons would have been the better choice.
I quite liked the focaccia base used in the recipe, and I realized that it's just a starting point for endless topping possibilities. So, I decided to give it another go, this time with raisins, a simple topping which happens to be a favorite in my family. It was delicious.
Just look at that sugar-y caramelized sheen. This didn't last long in my house.

I always used to be embarrassed about the way  I pronounced the word focaccia. I know the most common pronunciation is "foh-cah-cha", but my family, who hail from a little village in northern Italy, always said "fi-gah-sa". I used to have to check myself before I said it around anyone outside my family, lest they take me for some impostor Italian who didn't know how to pronounce Italian words. It wasn't until recently that I learned that the way my great-grandmother said focaccia was absolutely correct. It just happened to be part of her regional dialect. Being in the north, and therefore closer to the French border, it makes perfect sense that the word might sound more like the French fougasse. It's wonderful to think about our foods and the words we use to describe them as markers of our culture, changing across space and time like any other tradition. No longer am I self-conscious about the way I say focaccia - it's part of my family's unique heritage, and it's one of the many ways that my grandfather, my great-grandmother, and everyone before them live on through me.

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