There's fall in the air -- but with Halloween also…
Bread is older than recorded history, and it has been a staple of humankind for millennia. And yet, a couple of loaves that we eat regularly are in fact very recent: the baguette and ciabatta.
The French baguette only came into formal existence in Paris after the First World War. Perhaps counter to what might be thought of as the traditional “movement” of a food — from farm-country to city — the baguette started its life as an urban loaf and migrated into rural areas.
The ciabatta (“chuh-bah-tuh”) is even more recent. Credited with its creation in Veneto, in the northeast of Italy in the mid-1970s, is a single baker by the name of Favaron Francesco.
The word ciabatta means “slipper” in Italian. There is no doubt some food myth at play here, but Francesco was apparently inspired by the shape of his wife’s slipper, and the ciabatta bun was the result. (Leave it to an Italian to be inspired by footwear.)
When done properly, the ciabatta is rustic, porous, and chewy and soft all at the same time. Starting it off requires a bit of finesse because it is a very, very sticky and wet dough. It has to be wet in order to get the proper result. The recipe includes warm milk, water, flour, olive oil and biga — the Italian fermented starter dough.
Many places in Waterloo Region serve ciabatta — Waterloo’s Bauer Bakery makes it, for instance — and it is widely available at just about any grocery store.
As for restaurants using it, the same thing applies; although they don’t make the tricky dough, many, many restaurants have ciabatta on their menus. Just one example: A Dish Called Wanda, in Kitchener’s Forest Hills neighbourhood on Greenbrook Drive, is a family-style restaurant. [The ciabatta image here is not from Wanda.]
On their menu are several comfort food and sandwich selections, including “Crispy Chicken Ciabatta,” a Japanese-Italian-BLT sort of affair: panko-style hand-breaded chicken is topped with Cheddar cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayo and served on a garlic-grilled ciabatta bun, along with fries and coleslaw ($17).
Slip one on sometime.[Ciabatta image/Vincent Talleu via Wikimedia Commons]
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