TASTE / Cicchetti

On these warmer days it can be nicer to nibble on something daintier than we might usually do. As we cautiously start to gather together again, a tapas style meal is also perfect for outdoor dining. This month we have been reminiscing about cicchetti, a Venetian take on tapas.

The word cicchetti comes from the Latin ciccus, meaning “small quantity” and they can be found served at local bacari (small bars) They are often eaten standing and at the bar on which they are displayed. Meeting friends at the bacari for an early evening drink and cicchetti is a centuries-old ritual whcih is part of the cities maritime history, wine sellers offered glasses of wine along with small portions of food to the traders who passed by at all hours of the day.

Many tiny bars can be found today, squeezed into the narrow streets that run through Venice, where you can peruse the offerings at the counter and select a few to enjoy with your drink.

Crostini style bread is often used, but the various ingredients are also frequently served on slices of cold polenta. These are typically topped with baccala, a Venetian speciality made with salt cod. Here is a recipe if you would like to try it.

However, other toppings such as grilled and/or marinated veg such as peppers, aubergines, mushrooms and artichokes also feature, as well as little bites of other specialities such as eggs topped with marinated anchovies and olives, fried seafood or polpette. What we love is that cicchetti can be as simple or as lavish as you wish. Many say that when creating at home, they are a good way to use up leftovers. Think drops of pesto, the last couple of tomatoes, veg made into a patty and so on... Other examples of popular cicchetti at the bar include eggs topped with marinated anchovies and olives, fried seafood or polpette.