The Maremma

The Livornian Constitution

It is interesting to note that the demographic development of the city favoured by the “Livornian Constitution” (1593) assured the inhabitants complete liberty of residence, traffic and worship. Through the concession of immunity of galley slaves and the insolvent debtors, the concession of liberty of worship for the oppressed religions in minority, of sanctuary to refugees in exile, favoured the massive immigration of Hebrews, Hugenotts, Corsi, English catholics, Spanish muslems, Greeks, English and Dutch ex-pirates. This mixture of races very much influenced the Livornese cooking and successively along all the whole coast in the use of spices, for certain recipes of today have nearly all been forgotten like the cuscussù alla livornese (here also speaks the Artusi, who lived a long time in Livorno, but were not much appreciated). It is a preparation of Arab origin brought to Livorno by the Hebrews: a dish made with pieces of veal and lamb with which you season with cous cous of large bran. Another Livornian recipe of ancient Hebrew origin is that of the «tortelli di pesce fritti». A sweet typical of a Hebrew Easter adopted by Livornians in remote times is the «roschette livornesi», a ring-shaped cake (ciambellina) made with flour, egg, oil, sugar and salt cooked in the oven that today is prepared in many different ways, from the most simple to the most sweet and elaborate. In this year Livorno began to get the upper hand over Pisa and became a city and the only centre to have a University protected and favoured by Cosimo I and his successors, seat of the teaching of Galileo. Livorno (free port from 1548 to 1868) knew great prosperity thanks to the free deposit of goods: for about two centuries it was an international emporium with life facing the sea, with influence from many countries and many people, deprived of organic contact with interior of Tuscany, an emporium that continued to elaborate in every area - also, naturally, that of the cooking essentially tied to a large variety of fish and spices - a culture with no connection whatsoever with that of the Tuscan interior, lacking in nothing, highly refined like that of muggine alla melagrana. Only towards the end of the XVIII century, due to the effect of easier maritime communication between the various ports, began the decline of the commercial deposit, the port and the city of Livorno became more tied to that of the Tuscan and Italian interior elaborating on a different culture also in the culinary area; the fish remained and still remains today dominant but were cooked with major care and enriched with ingredients. And so - to give some examples - exploiting the eels of the lagoon you can prepare present dishes also in the actual pisana cooking like the pasta or the polenta with the eels in stew; the stoccofisso is elaborated in many ways, the most well-known is that named baccalà alla livornese; in reality is still traditional today at Pisa and Livorno and, for historic reasons, the stoccafisso, which is dried cod (of which exists a tasty recipe «alla livornese»), whereas the baccalà is cod preserved under salt, a system widely used in the XVI centuries by the Basque fishermen (the name baccalà comes from the Spanish bacalao); and the bianchetti (newly born anchovies and sardines) are mixed with egg to make an omelette or with the batter to make a fritter; also the cieche - the famous cèe, a boast of the pisana cooking about which Renato Fucini also speaks of - it is mixed with egg (whether in a sort of fricassè with parmisan, or whether in an omelette) in pisano, but on the coast many other preparations are still used; at one time there were also ostriches - today disappeared - that were eaten raw but also cooked «alla livornese» with garlic, onions, parsley, breadcrumbs, lemon and seasoned with oil, salt and pepper. The cooking of the cities of Pisa and Livorno, although it was enriched at other times with products of the land (vegetables and pulses) also with various preparation of meats, of above all courtyard animals that were cooked mostly in stews, it remains as a cooking impression of the most remarkable simplicity and genuiness.