From our good friend, Steve Maslow, just back from Italy where he had a food revelation: Pappa al Pomodoro. Steve thinks the best Pappa al Pomodoro is the one he will make with Gustiamo Tomatoes and EV Olive Oil in his home in Brooklyn. This is Steve’s lovely ode to Pappa al Pomodoro:
“Between Florence and Siena lies the Chiantigiana, where grape and olive cultivation by the Etruscan peoples predates the Roman Empire. For fear of rekindling bygone rivalries, we will forgive the citizens of Siena their Ghibelline silliness in aligning themselves with the Holy Roman Emperor, and we will forget the Florentine fit of fecklessness that carved a Guelph between Dante and his beloved city. Yes, the rivalry between Siena and Florence has simmered down, and the result is the culinary glory of the region between them: Pappa al Pomodoro alla Chiantigiana. To my mind this soup is the quintessential Tuscan dish, as Waverly Root once said, “hearty and healthy, subtle in its deliberate eschewing of sophistication, which is perhaps the highest sophistication of all.”
Many Tuscan dishes are virtues made of scarcity, for instance the lack of salt in Tuscan whole wheat bread began when the supply was cut due to the region’s mercurial relationship with Pisa, which controlled the European salt trade for centuries (to grasp its importance in Medieval times one only has to notice that our word ‘salary’ derives from the Latin word for salt.)
With the sudden appearance of the first hints of summer come the cravings for tomato flavors, indeed Pappa al Pomodoro is like a postcard from summer. But when the weather warms, well, who can wait for tomato season? Fortunately Gustiamo sells four kinds of imported tomatoes whose flavor and bouquet are the closest thing we have to astro-projecting yourself to Italy and picking them yourself. My favorite are the Piennolo vine tomatoes, but my Better Half prefers the Dani Coop tomatoes from Agro Nocerino. Try it with any of the imported tomatoes and tell us which is your favorite.” Steve Maslow
Grazie Steve! Here is the recipe of Pappa al Pomodoro.
I LOVED Steve Maslows article on Pappa al Pomodoro. His well crafted description of the history of the Chiantigiana made me want to learn more about the region and enticed me to try his recipe. His writing is wonderful – rich with nuance, interesting references and personal warmth. More please!
I second Ms. Tannin’s admiration of Steve Maslow’s delightfully erudite writing style as well as his praise for pappa al pomodoro. My first choice for indulging in the latter would be at Il Latini in Florence (if, in fact, it’s still there) but, failing that, I look forward to trying the Gustiamo recipe at home–with their excellent canned tomatoes as well as my favorite of their superlative olive oils, the uber-fragrant Cru di Cures.
Yet another delicious example of how rich and facinating the history of food is. I can’t wait to try your Pappa al Pomodore recipe, then close my eyes and be transported back to Tuscany.
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