Pappa al Pomodoro

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My Beginner’s Guide To Traditional Tuscan Food
1 of the TOP 10 Traditional Tuscan Dishes
The Legendary Pappa al Pomodoro

My first accidental contact with Pappa al Pomodoro started as a culinary journey through Italy in Rome,
in Via Nomentana …

photocredit: google maps

When I stayed in Rome for my studies, I have been living in a very nice area at Porta Pia, on Via Nomentana, quite close to the historic center of Rome. My apartment was on the last floor of a historic building. The owners invested a lot of money and love to keep it as beautiful as possible. I remember the most beautiful evenings on my little balcony with my peach and raspberry colored Bougainville, that I never again cultivated in that beauty in Vienna.
Countless times I enjoyed the unforgettable view, the rooftops of Rome in the romantic change of mood of the evening sky. Slowly, the sky dips in rosé and lilac, to announce the night quickly with its silver-blue, accompanied by countless shining stars... well, Rome is a very romantic city ...

Italian Cuisine, starting in Taormina, Sicily

photocredit: pixabay

photocredit: FabrizioandRomina

My only neighbors on the floor were 9 students from all over Italy. Calogero e Pasqualina, called Lina, were a young couple from Sicily, Taormina, that moved later to London. They raved about their homeland so much that they inflamed an immense curiosity in me.
It took me 10 years to finally stroll along Corso Umberto in Taormina, enjoying the famous pistachio ice cream and looking forward to the open-air event in the ancient theater. Very often Calogero e Lina cooked something and they always invited me to have typical Sicilian food. I will never forget peperoni in agro-dolce, bitter-sweet peppers … delicious!!!

Italian Recipes from the Region Friuli-Venezia-Giulia

photocredit: pixabay

Umberto was a very tall northern Italian guy from Udine, a city quite close to the Austrian border. He came from a city I knew very well, as my aunts lived there. Umberto fell in love with Aurelia, a roman student, he met in his first days in Rome. I was quite happy for them, as they complemented each other perfectly. From that moment on he cooked traditional and flavorful dishes from Friuli-Venezia-Giulia.

Aurelia was full of energy and grabbed everyone. She helped everybody and knew where to get what, whom to call for help. She was an amazing girl! It was her, organizing the cooking-evenings and appointing Massimiliano and me referee. Still today, I am grateful for that, even if I had to starve for ten months to regain my original weight. It was worth it!

What to eat in Verona
Traditional Dishes from the Veneto

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Cecilia was the oldest of us, she came from Verona, from the Italian region Veneto. She didn’t spend a lot of time with us, as she was already finishing her master thesis and her family had concrete plans for her future in the family business. She was a hard-working girl with a very clear and structured vision of her future. Many times, I wondered how someone at such a young age could have such a clear vision for her future. I admired her because she spoke of her future life with such certainty and conviction. I was more in the free bird category, in those days ...

The Most Famous Foods of the Apulian Cuisine

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Libero and Michela were pugliesi, they came from Lecce in Apulia and celebrated regularly cooking competitions with Calogero and Lina. And I was a bad referee! For both teams bad luck, because I loved everything they cooked, which my scale reflected one day...
I will never forget my birthday, the day I ate for my first time the legendary "Orecchiette al cime di rapa".

Pizza Neapolitana with Gennaro

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Gennaro came from a pizzaiolo-family, a pizza baker family in the 3rd generation in Napoli. Of course, I wanted to learn how to make the real pizza margherita. But Gennaro was one of the guys who was here and there, he had so many friends and looking back he wasn’t so often with us. But the times he was supposed to prepare dinner, he always enchanted us with his Pizza. I always wanted to help him; I was a very good helper. But when Gennaro cooked nobody could enter the kitchen.
I think he couldn’t pass me on the family secrets of the perfect Pizza without marrying me. By the way, his girlfriend Carmela, waiting for his return in Naples, was watching over him, quite well!
And honestly speaking, at that time, I didn’t see myself as a married woman in Naples …

Super Simple Recipes from the Piedmont

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Massimiliano frequented, like everybody of us, the University Sapienza. He lacked only one or two semesters to his master thesis. He was the calmest of us all and could not cook at all. That made him the second referee and we had a lot of fun with his peculiar dry humor. The few dishes he was supposed to prepare turned to a co-production of all of us. I think at the end, the food was less traditional and more southern Italian influenced. But we had a lot of fun and a really good time!

12 Month of Tuscan Cuisine
A Tuscan Food Tour Throughout A Personal Story

photocredit: Sabrina Lauriston 

Viola became my closest friend as we met also during the day at the university and spent a lot of time together. We discovered Rome and had also a lot of culinary experiences together. One of the most impressing recipes was Pappa al Pomodoro!

I have been working on my free afternoons in a translation office. For some reason I was running late and forget completely about my shopping that special day. I was so pampered by my friends ;)
And we had a long weekend…
My friends left already the evening before. Viola was the only one leaving the next morning.
So, that meant, I was alone and had no food for 3 days...
my fridge stored only milk...

When I arrived home, Viola had already prepared for dinner.
She wanted to have a nice girls dinner, before traveling home. She met a nice guy from Mexico and you know, girls talk …
Some easygoing but wonderful tasty pasta with veggies waited for us. Eating, I told her about my empty fridge. Immediately, she got up from her chair and rushed in kitchen.
After a few minutes she came back with a big smile, telling me: “I will teach you the traditional Tuscan cooking tonight! You will have Pappa al Pomodoro! You will not starve!”
Well, I was not afraid of starving, it was just the idea not having dinner with my friends, not chatting and having fun, what made me a little sad.

Of course, I was interested about the story of Pappa al Pomodoro. Like always, I wanted to know everything, where it came from, who was the first writing down the recipe and much more…
Viola was happy talking about their beloved home and her favorite dish.
And I was an interested and good listener.

La Pappa al Pomodoro was not only a dish for Viola. It was linked with her early childhood and her beloved grandmother, preparing la Pappa al Pomodoro. Viola always enjoyed watching her grandmother in the kitchen and started quite early helping her with the preparation.

Cooking Class,
A Taste of Traditional Tuscan Cuisine

Of course, I was doing my research:
Originally, the Pappa al Pomodoro came from the rural, simple kitchen. It consists of very simple regional ingredients.

photocredit: Angela Lindner 

The dish became famous in Italy back in 1907 due to the book: “Il giornalino di Gian Burrasca” (“The diary of Gian Burrasca), published by Vamba, Luigi Bertelli.
He published his work always under the pseudonym Vamba. Vamba was a self-taught prose author and lyric poet and became the editor of two magazines “The Capitain Fracassa” and “Don Quixote”, where he published several humorous writings.

“The diary of Gian Burrasca” shows episodes of the life of a boy, called Giannino, studded with hilarious pranks, hysterical scenes of the older sister and angry reactions of the parents always waiting for the new, clever and unpredictable found of their Giannino.

“La Pappa col pomodoro” marks the central adventures of Gian Burrasca, who lived in the college where the food for the children is very bad. Here he is leading the minestrone revolt and discovers, in an attempt to get “papa col pomodoro per tutti” (engl: “pappa col pomodoro for everybody”), precious values of friendship and sacrifice.

photocredit and source: 

Collecting the ingredients

Viola asked me to get her the following ingredients:

• pomodori – tomatoes
• il pane di ieri – bread from yesterday
• basilico – basil
• aglio – garlic
• olio d’oliva – oliveoil
• sale e pepe – salt and pepper
• 1 litro d’acqua – 1 liter of water

Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough fresh pomodori, so we used the passata (tomato sauce) from the package.


First I had to cut the bread into thin slices and place it one next to the other on the baking sheet lined with baking paper. Then Viola turned on the heat to 200° and left the bread for a few minutes to get them golden colored.
In the meantime, we peeled the 2 cloves of garlic. Afterwards we took the baking sheet out of the oven, we rubbed each slice of bread with garlic.

Then we took a non-stick frying pan. I put the toasted bread inside, one next to the other. Viola poured the tomato sauce on the bread slices together with the water, so that the slices of bread were completely covered.
We let it simmer at low temperature for 40-50 minutes, to evaporate the liquid. From time to time Viola stirred it to allow uniform cooking and to reduce bread in pulp.

When it was ready Viola put salt, pepper and basil.
Then she put it on two plates and poured smiling some olive oil (from home, of course!) on the top with the words:
“La cosa più importante, sai!” what means: “The most important thing, you know!”.

We ate with spoons, what was very interesting for me.
But I will never forget when I tasted it: what an aroma … a fusion of perfectly matched flavors.

A few words about the recipi

I have learned that everybody has its own way of preparing his or her Pappa al Pomodoro, due to dietary restrictions or simply personal preferences.

That’s the good thing in Italian cooking, you can be so creative …
Even me:
I don’t put the bread in the oven, I cut it in smaller pieces and put it directly in the pan.
Instead of using the passata, I make the tomato sauce by myself.

photocredit: Angela Lindner 

photocredit: Angela Lindner 

photocredit: Angela Lindner 

And when do you eat la Pappa al Pomodoro?

Almost always and everywhere!!!

This is one of the greatest dishes that change stile due to the “packaging”.
If you make it up in a beautiful glass shot, it fits perfectly at an elegant Welcome cocktail.

photocredit: Angela Lindner

If the Pappa al Pomodoro is served in rustic dishes, it fits perfectly to a vintage style lunch.

This picture was taken at an olive oil tasting  & light lunch, starting with Pappa al Pomodoro at Fonte di Foiano, Castagneto Carducci ...

photocredit: Angela Lindner

When it comes to talk about the wedding dinner with the bridal couples, no matter if there are food stations, a served four course dinner, a buffet, or a combination – I always advise them to take also the refreshing typical Tuscan Pappa al Pomodoro.

For me la Pappa al Pomodoro is THE example for the most simple, tasty and genuine Tuscan dish.

photocredit: Angela Lindner 

Finally, a few words to the photographers:

Laura Caini
Professional Photographer based in the area of Siena, San Gimignano, Monteriggioni in Poggibonsi
Passionate for the particular photography style Caravaggio
Portfolio: weddings, children, family, and much more …

Sabrina Lauriston
Professional Photographer based in Poggibonsi and Australia
Passionate for beautiful landscape, art and capturing people’s true emotion
Portfolio: weddings, portraiture, commercial, and much more …

Professional worldwide Destination Wedding Photographer and Videographer, based in Sicila,
Passionate for travelling, immersing in other cultures
Portfolio: a creative and documentary style in photography and videography to reflect the
authentic and unique moments on the wedding day to capture for a lifetime memory

Thank you all, for allowing me to use your pictures ;)

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