Forget your forks! From time immemorial, flatbreads have been the way to sop up sauce, roll up wraps or dab on dips — proving that it’s truly fine (not to mention delicious) to eat with your hands. From fatir, which can trace its roots to ancient Bedouins on the move in the deserts of the Middle East, to French pissaladière, the succulent, caramelized onion-topped pizza-focaccia hybrid from Provence that puts the cronut to shame, countries around the world have never fallen out of love with flatbread.
Perhaps that’s because flatbread serves so many purposes. It’s had a starring role in several world religions (see Judaism and Christianity for just two examples), and often provides simple sustenance in extreme environments (damper was invented over a campfire in Australia’s rugged outback during colonial times).
Whether it’s unleavened (made without yeast), slightly leavened (such as pita bread) or fluffy and risen (see naan); flatbreads are a veritable blank canvas for creative cooks around the globe.
So carbo-phobics, step away from the screen: We’ve scoured the globe to find the world’s most fanciful flatbreads, with toothsome results for every palate. Hope you’re hungry: You’re about to tear into a doughy, delicious world.
Torta Sul Testo — Italy
This Umbrian griddle-baked flatbread is a staple of the province of Perugia, and has been compared to some of history’s first examples of unleavened bread (traditionally, torta sul testo was baked on earthenware). As if it couldn’t get tastier, this authentic Italian flatbread gets stuffed with greens (like spinach or broccoli rabe), or is served plain with a side of Pecorino cheese or olives. Delizioso!
Damper — Australia
Leave it to the land down unda’ to create a flatbread in the coals of a campfire in bush country (how cool is that?). Damper is an iconic Australian unleavened bread made from wheat flour, and can be tied to stockmen who traversed the wilds caring for livestock, outfitted with only the most basic rations (typically, flour, sugar and tea). This bread from the outback was often eaten with a simple gold-colored syrup combining cane sugar and water called “cocky’s joy” (seriously), but today can be enjoyed from the bakery with jam or even vegemite.