Hidden treasures

The history of Cacciucco of Livorno

Local Traditions
Cacciucco-livornese

The history of Cacciucco of Livorno

Cacciucco is one of the most famous Tuscan dishes. Who doesn't know the tasty fish soup typical of Livorno? What few people know, however, is that the recipe for this delicacy comes directly from Turkey! To be precise, we need to go back to around the year 1600, to a village in the bay of Smyrna. Here lived Ahmet, a clever young boy who dedicated his time between the fishing boat of his father and his mother's inn. One of the main dishes she prepared was ‘balik çorbasi’: a soup cooked with different types of fish, garlic, onion, chilli and capers. She usually made it with small fish, those that her husband couldn't sell. If they had been in the pantry for a few days, she also added a little vinegar to remove any strong smell and taste.

How did this soup come to Livorno? Simple: thanks to Ahmet! The little boy who grew up among the tales of the sailors who frequented the inn, soon began to dream of going to Livorno. Finally, thanks to a rich merchant, he found, so to speak, a passage and landed in the city of Livorno. Here he found somebody who helped him by offering him an area where he could open his tavern. This person was so generous that he allowed him not to pay the rent until he started earning something. Fortunately, he didn't have to wait long because Ahmet's soup was extremely popular! He made it just like his mother’s, he had only replaced the capers with tomato, which had just arrived from the new world. But he always used small fish, also because it cost less. He used to go to the market and repeat ‘küçük’, which in Turkish means small, to the sellers holding the weighing scales. Soon, to make fun of him, everyone in Livorno started calling him with that funny word. Even the tasty dish that he prepared became known not as Ahmet's soup, but cacciucco, after the Turkish word was Italianized.

This explains the origin of the name of this dish and also its history. If you enjoyed this story and if you are passionate about recipes and culinary curiosities, you should definitely check out our section on food and wine tours and choose the experience that most appeals to you.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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