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Sciamadde specialize in subtly flavored tarts and pancakes, baked in deep, old woodburning ovens on copper pans, each as big as a tractor wheel.These are dark places, centuries old, but they smell wonderful.Henry James called Genoa’s caruggi “the most entangled topographical ravel in the world,” but they are second nature to Panizza, who is mayoral in the number of salutations he issues as he guides me almost frantically though the dark winding lanes, intent on exposing all their wonders in a single morning.There are two main sorts of Genoese street-food shops: .The restaurant, which has been half full for most of our dinner, begins to empty.Panizza, who has remained aloof throughout the meal, delivers us slices of , a local, lightly sweet, dry, crumbly cake, and two bottles of grappa, and sits down with us.
The basil leaves’ own oils emulsify, along with sharp parmigiano, local oil, and pine nuts, into a sauce that is ineluctably creamy. Chestnut flour is a tradition born of the absence of any arable farmland for growing wheat.(While at the market, I freeze in delight before wooden crates of silver fish, bags of unrecognizable beings in shells, eels of varying sizes, tiny rose-petal-pink fish, and boxes of spiky critters labeled only .) They are delicious fried, scooped every few minutes from bubbling oil by lynx-eyed experts and delivered unsmilingly to customers.Genoa was probably founded in the third century b.c. Ruled for 400 years by Ostrogoths, Byzantines, Lombards, and Carolingians—which may also have contributed to its somewhat Frankish manner—Genoa established itself as an independent republic in the 12th century.Together, we drink out of small glasses for the better part of an hour.
By the end, he has offered me a tour of the city the following day.
The olive oil, featured in the many fried offerings, is uncharacteristically light and subtle because it is often made of only one olive variety—taggiasca.