Saturday, 27 October 2012

Les Panisses

One of the best nibbles to be had at apéro time in Provence are panisses. These salty little treats are made from a chickpea-based dough, sold in rolls around 25cm long and probably around 12cm diameter. They are sliced into thin discs, deep-fried and sprinkled with sea salt, and served plain or spread with tapenade. 

The consumption of panisses is not limited to aperitifs though; they are sold hot in paper bags by the dozen, to be eaten like chips in the UK. They also appear atop many salads in restaurants in and around Marseille, and as far afield as Nice. Panisses are thought to originate from the little fishing village of L'Estaque, just outside of Marseille, to the west. Takeaway stalls do a roaring trade all along the portside there, including one of the most famous, Chez Magali.

The port at L'Estaque

Along with panisses, the stalls in l'Estaque also sell chichis, an enormous dessert made from donut batter, which is rolled into a sausage, flattened, deep-fried and served with sugar or chocolate sauce. Chichi has become a provencal slang word for male genitalia, and the stall-holders never cease to get an innuendo in when handing you a freshly-fried chichi.

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