Fabulous Focaccia by Giovanna Eusebi of Eusebi Deli in Glasgow

Bread is sacred. It is humanity’s simplest creation. A powerful symbol of God’s love at Christian and Jewish tables, bread has historically appeared on tables on all four corners of the globe. Bread is a staple food that unites us all, regardless of culture, denomination or country.

At the last count in Italy, there were 250 types of bread and counting. From the ‘rosetta’ (rolls of Lazio) to the ‘altamura’ of Puglia, ‘carasau’ of Sardinia and ‘grissini’ from Piemonte, bread defines the Italian table more than anything else. Every town still has a local ‘panificio’ at its heart – my favourite of all time being Panificio Caruso bakery in Aprilia, just outside Rome.

Panificio Caruso belongs to the family of my paternal grandmother. The bakery was founded in 1961 by Maria and Toni, and continued today by their sons Franco and Rino, who are truly magicians of bread making.

An anticipated last stop on our way to Rome airport, the sweet smell of baked dough pulled us in as soon as we arrived. The heart of the bakery was the ‘forno’. Trays of swollen pagnotta loaves being fed into ovens; slabs of pizza rossa sizzling as they are pulled from the ovens, the bases rich and crispy with oil and running with tomato juice. The second part was the shop itself, brimming with freshly baked goods.

On my last impromptu visit a few years ago, Zia Maria now in her early nineties was still working – finding her in her usual spot, sitting at ‘la cassa’ – the till. My endearing memory of her as a child was her driving. She was too big for her tiny cinquecento. Hanging out the window, she would wolf whistle, shouting profanities at oncoming traffic. I loved her sass. Most of all, I loved her bread.

Bread also brings communities together. In my mother’s village, bread making was a weekly ritual as a child. The women would meet at a communal oven, each bringing their ‘madre’ – starter dough often gifted to them by their mothers on marriage, passed from generation to generation. Each household would score their dough with an identifiable mark to distinguish it. Every crumb was cherished; nothing was thrown away. Stale bread was turned into toasted crumbs – ‘pangrattato’ – a poor man’s version of Parmesan. If a morsel of bread was dropped or mouldy, it would be sacrilegiously kissed for forgiveness before being thrown away. Bread is life and for sure, life would be a little sadder without this miracle made from flour that has fed generations even in its darkest times.

Focaccia Recipe

Serves 8


1 kilo of strong white flour

600ml warm water

60g dried yeast

10g salt

20ml extra virgin olive oil

Fresh rosemary and sea salt, to finish


1. Dissolve the yeast in warm water, ideally in a mixer with a dough hook, although you can also do this by hand in a mixing bowl.

2. Add the flour and olive oil, and mix slowly until the focaccia dough has formed.

3. Leave the dough to prove in a bowl covered with cling film until it has doubled in size.

4. Knock back the dough to remove the air, then stretch the dough by hand into an oiled tray. Press it down with your fingertips, then leave to prove again for 15-20 minutes.

5. Finish the focaccia with sea salt, rosemary and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

6. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes at 180°C.