I’m spending the Christmas holidays in Albenga, on the Italian Riviera on the way to France. Plenty of family occasions, that are naturally a good opportunity for gastronomic discussions. A good example yesterday night when we spent an hour debating the the finer points of the making of the fish soup we will enjoy on New Year’s eve!

Awaiting the foodie treats to ring in 2004, we went to sample a local speciality, namely _farinata_. This is a “poor man’s” dish, eaten all along the Riviera and also in Tuscany. Ingredients and procedure are basic: mix chickpea flour 1:3 with water and let stand for 4-5 hours. Pour the lot in a wide baking tray smeared with olive oil, sprinkle with rosemary and pop in a hot (preferably wood fired) oven. The liquid mixture will cook rapidly and a golden brown crust will form on top of a creamy white base. It is then cut up in small chunks. Very simple and delicious served with a glass of local _Pigato_ white wine. Eat in or carry out from *Puppo*, Via Torlaro, Albenga.

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