The French are renowned for their refined cuisine. Pastries, macarons, baguettes, crepes – the list is endless. Many French dishes are attributed to regions of France, with others considered a part of the country’s national cuisine. Then, there are the lesser-known delights. Step forward, socca.
A Nice specialty, socca is the healthier, less-famous cousin of the crepe. It’s hugely popular all along the French Riviera, and is just as delicious as Nice’s other famous dish – Salade Niçoise.
Where did it come from?
Variations of socca exist around the world. You can find it along the Italian coastline, and in India, dal is very similar – as is karantita in Algeria. It’s known as calentita in Gibraltar, where it is the national dish. However, the best place to try it is Nice, where is has been made for centuries.
According to an old wives’ tale, socca batter was created in the 1540s to pour over the invading Turkish army after the Niçoise army ran out of ammunition. The soldiers happened to lick their fingers and notice that it tasted pretty good!
A more likely story is that socca was provided as an affordable food for dockworkers and fishermen around the port and market areas. Along with a little bread, it’s a super-filling meal, so the perfect accompaniment to long working hours.
What is socca?
It’s a delicious, pancake-like treat, typically eaten with your fingers. Chickpea flour is combined with water, olive oil, salt and cracked black pepper. This mixture is poured into a large, red-hot copper tin and cooked in a wood-fired oven for around 5 minutes. The result is a soft texture with a crunchy surface. To eat it like a real local, be sure to use your fingers and enjoy it with a glass of chilled rosé. Perfection.
Where can I get some in Nice?
Pay a visit to the old town, just a short drive or stroll along the waterfront from the Radisson Blu Hotel, Nice. The picture-perfect streets here haven’t changed much since the 1700s.
Be sure to browse the flower market. If you’re visiting on a Monday, there’s also a flea market. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, check out our favorite spots to sample some socca:
You may have to wait up to 45 minutes for some socca in this popular restaurant, but it is 100 percent worth it. Based near Port Lympia, it’s been serving up delicious food to both locals and tourists since 1923.
13 Rue Bavastro
Lou Pilha Leva
Enjoy socca al fresco at Lou Pilha Leva, where you can grab a seat in the sunshine next to some locals. Think of this eatery as a fast food place – French-style.
10 Rue du Collet
Chez Theresa Stall
The original Theresa set up her stall here in the 1920s, and someone has stood on the same spot selling delicious socca ever since. It's actually delivered by bike after being cooked just 5 minutes away.
You’ll find several takeaway options tucked down this street, but keep an eye out for the socca kiosks. It’s the perfect place to pick up some socca after sundown, or to eat on the move.
10 Rue Miralheti