Monday, June 21, 2010

Viva la pappa col pomodoro!

Incredible to me that although I've had this blog for almost three years, I have yet to feature Rita Pavone, one of the delights of my childhood. When I got to Italy as a little kid in 1962, she was just coming onto the scene, with enormous (and justified success.) The petite redhead, who was still a teen, was nothing short of phenomenal: personality, talent, and a voice bigger than she was.

The clip is from the TV series adaptation of the story of Gian Burrasca (Stormy Jack), the supposed diary of a mischievous boy in an oppressive boarding school (apparently the Italian grandpa of Harry Potter.) In the song, Gianni is rebelling against the poor school food, and singing the praises of la pappa col pomodoro. Surprisingly, the show was directed by famed filmmaker Lina Wertmuller, who later went on to make some very different sorts of things- to put it mildly. Although it may not be so surprising, as Lina was herself a little hell-raiser who got repeatedly expelled from school. And in the seventies, her films reflected the same political and social issues comically addressed in Gian Burrasca. She worked on this along with equally famed composer Nino Rota, who wrote scores for Fellini movies and for the first two films of The Godfather trilogy.

Little did I know when I first heard this song at the age of nine that it was an actual dish, and a yummy one, too. I had very little interest in food at the time, apart from chocolate and Nutella.It's basically a simple bread and tomato soup, which can be eaten warm or cold. The Tuscans will insist that you use Tuscan (unsalted) bread for it, but it's not really necessary. However, don't even think of using soft, commercial bread. There are very many versions, but I'll refer you to the one by the knowledgeable Kyle Phillips, an American who lives in Tuscany. You can find it here.

Lyrics to the song are here.