Cecina is a typical dish of Pisa, the tuscan variant of “fainà”, a pie made of chickpea flour, water, salt and olive oil. Nowadays it is a typical dish of some areas of the Mediterranean, especially Liguria and the seaside of Tuscany, but also Piemonte, Sardinia and Nice.

It has very ancient roots: several latina and greek recipes report of mashed vegetables, cooked in the oven. However, the most popular and widespread legend tells that fainà (and also cecina) was born by chance in 1284, when Genoa defeated Pisa in the battle of Meloria. The Genoese galleys got involved in a storm. In the confusion some barrels of oil and sacks of chickpeas toppled, soaking in salt water.

The Genoese galleys were out of supplies, so the sailors were given bowls of a puree of chickpeas and oil shapeless. Some sailors refused mash leaving it in the sun, which dried the mixture into a kind of pancake. The next day, driven by hunger, the sailors ate the prepared discovering its delicacy. Once back in Liguria, the Genoese thought to improve the discovery by cooking the puree in the oven. The result pleased and, to scorn the defeated enemy, it was called "the gold of Pisa."

In the culinary tradition of Pisa cecina can be eaten alone or as a filling for “focaccia”; It is often accompanied by a sprinkling of black pepper or in combination with soft cheese, onions or blue cheese.

 

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