Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Clover’s panelle sandwich is fried chickpea with lemon mayo and a salad inspired by the ingredients found in early summer in Southern Italy: citrus, olives and fennel. (Photo: Clover)

The reminisces of a customer from Sicily inspired the panelle sandwich at the Clover healthy fast-food chain, and now the launch of a podcast called “Let’s Talk About Food” and an inaugural live event July 19 that’s looking for more stories about powerful food memories.

Clover and podcast partners The Food Voice, the PRX Podcast Garage and Edible Boston are selling $10 tickets to the event, which starts with a reception (catered off Clover food trucks, of course) before heading into the Podcast Garage in Allston for the recording.

But they’re also soliciting stories – “a yummy, happy, sad, confusing, heartwarming or funny food story. It can be a few lines or a few paragraphs long, written or audio-recorded” – that could get tellers picked to come on the podcast or record their story for use later, according to an email from Clover sent Wednesday. People who don’t want to speak live won’t have to.

The story of Clover’s panelle began in the spring of 2016 after a customer from Sicily told workers about a sandwich his mom used to make – “a crispy, creamy, custardy cake, made of chickpea flour and fried in a pan after he came home from school each day,” Clover said June 27, announcing the sandwich’s availability. “We were so intrigued by his food memory that five of us hopped a plane to Rome, a smaller plane to Reggio Calabria and a giant ship to the island of Sicily and the ancient city of Palermo … to hunt the panelle in the wild.”

After sampling from all-night stands and food trucks, kitchens of family members, gas stations, chickpea farms, beachside restaurants and centuries-old ruins, Clover said, the chain began selling its own panelle. “People went wild for it,” the chain said, calling the reintroduction a timely way to take advantage of a fennel crop from a farm in Hadley.

Clover started as a food truck at MIT in 2008 and – eventually mothballing its fleet of trucks – grew into a dozen Massachusetts bricks-and-mortar restaurants in Cambridge, Boston, Brookline, Burlington, Sudbury and Westford.

Clover’s plea now:

Tell us a personal story about a time when a certain food left a big impression on you. Maybe it’s about dinner at the home where you grew up. Or is it the smell or taste that brings you back to a specific moment, place or person? A food that you learned to love or hate. Your go-to when you are hangry or have the munchies. Perhaps it’s a dish that marks an occasion or represents an idea or philosophy. What food memories come to mind?

Contribute a food memory to Clover here.