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Pappa al Pomodoro Guide

Florence, Italy

Food Guide

Pappa al Pomodoro is a thick soup prepared with fresh tomatoes, bread, olive oil, garlic and basil: it can be served hot, tepid, or chilled like a gazpacho. Used to be prepared by housewives who made a soup out of the left over bread so not to waste anything, like most traditional recipes from this country, it is the very high quality of the ingredients that make a simple dish like Pappa al Pomodoro excellent, starting from the tomatoes.

History behind it

To make a true authentic pappa al pomodoro, a particular kind of tomatoes is required: the variety is called costoluto fiorentino, a flattened, heavily-ribbed shape of various Italian heirlooms. Obviously, it is not always easy to find this variety even in Italy; If you want to stay authentic, you can use San Marzano tomatoes, which are what most Italians use. Another key ingredient is Tuscan bread: this bread is also called pane sciocco (stupid bread) or bread without salt and there is a historical reason behind it. The recipe of this bread dates back to the 12th century, when the rulers of Pisa were at odds with the rulers of Florence so they cut off their supply lines from the coast, which made salt prohibitively expensive. The Florentines, unwilling to cave to the pressure, started making their bread without salt.

A TV Star

The popular RAI television series, in which Rita Pavone sang the famous song "Viva la pappa col Pomodoro" made the dish famous outside of Italy; the song was released in 1965, and was an instant hit!

Like any old traditional recipe, especially this one which also comes from cucina povera (peasant cooking), there are as many ways to make Pappa al Pomodoro as there are families in Tuscany. You just have to choose your champion then!!!