Index Museo Civico


(The following  is a translation of a poem by a Tolfa poet, Antonio Pizzuti, about a tradtitonal local dish called acquacotta - literally “cooked water”)   From ancient times there’s been the tradition of making acquacotta, the dish that Tolfa people love. I will describe this dish, how it’s made and how it’s seasoned.
Potatoes and abundant chicory, beans, squash and chopped onion, some chopped pork lard with crushed garlic, and put it all to boil in a pan.   It’s turns out better with some tomato, the odd artichoke, and Chili pepper, some marjoram and some broccoli. Accompany it with a good glass of wine.   Put some slices of bread in the bottom of the plate, and pour the rest on top. Bring it to the table, an excellent and flavoursome dish, fit for king and  president.
                                                        Antonio Pizzuti   Tolfa

cuisine, rather than being a poor cuisine, is in reality parsimonious, made up of a few dishes and without delicacies. This is in the tradition of the cuisine of the Etruscans and Romans, who did not give much space to elaborate and foods and sauces. The typical dish of Tolfa is without doubt acquacotta, as in the poem above. It is the vegetable soup of the Maremma parts of Tuscany and Lazio, and is quite different from the ribollita toscana of further north. The history of acquacotta go back to the dawn of human habitation in the area, for in fact, the Italic tribes used to offer their gods seasonal vegetables in the form of  what we might term an “archaic acquacotta”. Today’s version is a dish with many seasonal variations, prepared with cultivated or wild greens, to which are added pork lard with garlic and marjoram. Once cooked, the mixture is poured on to some slices of durum wheat bread in a soup bowl. In recent months, in order to maintain the authenticity of the dish and to promote it in all its originality, an Acquacotta Association of Tolfa has been formed.
Another Tolfa dish is  Baccalà in agro e dolce (Sweet and sour stockfish). It is typical of the Christmas period and consists of stockfish (salted cod), onions, raisins, quarters of dried apples, prunes, dried sour cherries, and hot red pepper.
Ghighe alle erbe selvatiche” (Ghighe with wild herbs)  Gighe, like strozzapreti (priest-chokers) are a pasta made only from flour and water. When cooked and drained, they are mixed in a pan with a sauce made of small tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, hot red pepper, and various wild herbs.

Antonio Pizzuti wrote, in Tolfa dialect, a  poem about ghighe that goes as follows:
In Tolfa certain customs have disappeared, like eating ghighe with herbs. But they were good and flavoursome; we used to eat them until we nearly burst. They were typical dishes, but they were delicious, especially for poor old ladies; but now that we are a bit more civilized, no one wants to eat them anymore. They were made from flour and water, and they served as first course and main course. It’s a pity no one cooks them anymore. Hot, hot, without being in the oven, they were a genuine dish, better than today’s spaghetti.                                                             Antonio Pizzuti Frittata d’abboiele (Omelette with Black Bryony).

Note: abboiele is the local name for Tamus communis, black bryony, a small climbing plant that grows wild in the area and which people search the countryside for to make this dish. You rinse the bryony and blanch it in boiling water to reduce its rather bitter taste. Then put it into a pan with olive oil and salt and let it cook for a few minutes. Beat some eggs in a bowl, pour them into the pan with the bryony and mix them. Let them cook until you can slide the flat omelette on to a plate. Panonto (Greasy Bread). This is a typical winter dish, to be eaten in front of a lit fireplace.  Durum wheat bread, ordinary white sausages and the dark ones too - with liver in them - streaky bacon, salted pig’s cheek, pork chops and spare ribs seasoned with salt and wild fennel seeds ... all for grilling in the fireplace.   As the meats are cooked, take them off the grill and squeeze them between two pieces of bread so that they absorb the spices and grease off the meat. (Greasy bread!)