A Short History of Focaccia Bread and Ratatouille

Focaccia is a popular style of bread which is made in Italy and is spreading around the world in Italian communities while Ratatouille is a traditional French dish stewed with vegetables.

Many historians are of a view that Focaccia originated from either the Etruscans of North Central Italy prior to the Roman Empire or in Ancient Greece in the beginning of the first millennium BC. On the other hand, different views exist about the exact origins of ratatouille, some believe it to be a Basque dish that reached Northern Spain, Southern France and the Balearic islands. Some believe that it could be Catalonian or French dish.

The name ‘Focaccia’ comes from the Roman words “panis focacius”. Panis simply means bread while baking bread is actually derived from the Latin word ‘patina’ which means dish. The word “ratatouille” comes from French and is pronounced as rat-a-tooey. Ratatouille is usually served as a side dish but can also be served as a meal on its own. There is much debate on how to make a traditional ratatouille.

The Focaccia bread is fairly flat, plain from inside, topped with herbs and olive oil and sometimes with finely sliced olives. Ratatouille is generally served as a side and a meal on its own.

A range of focaccia varieties are available and in the 21st century new varieties have been created due to the versatility of the basic recipe. On the other hand, there is much debate on how to make a traditional ratatouille.

The early Romans used to prepare Focaccia bread, it was historically unleavened and the recipe rises naturally in the right climate which gives a further clue to its origins. The focaccia recipe is mostly unknown in the Middle East, yet it has a history of being prepared in Turkey, Italy, Greece, Spain and France.

The Mediterranean has local variants of ratatouille but a true ratatouille will be made with just eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers and onions, then simmered in olive oil and seasoned with herbes de provence.

Both dishes are somehow unique, Italian immigrants in United States in the 20th century brought recipes with them for pizza, bruschetta, grissini and of course focaccia. While Ratatouille spread worldwide during the 20th century with French cuisine. Ratatouille dish is a traditionally peasant food but is now served in the top restaurants and many top chefs have their own special recipe that regularly receive praise from critics.