As soon as Marco del Pistoia, leader of Slow Food Compitese e Orti Lucchesi, told me they were organising a soup tournament, I asked him to put me on the mailing list and ever more excited emails keep arriving about the pilgrims already being on the road. The contestants are volunteers each believing his or her soup recipe to be the best in the region, or more probably in the world; the juries are self-selected gourmets and gluttons from the public. There will be five rounds to determine the finalists who will compete on 6 February for the ‘World Championship’ at the Sagra della Zuppa (Soup Festival) at Santa Maria del Giudice, not far from Lucca. The soup will be variations on zuppa alla frantoiana, a thick vegetable soup based on a brodo di fagioli (bean broth) and drizzled with new-season olive oil. Some people maintain the tradition of including wild greens; those suitable for soup are only in season from January to March. It takes at least a day to prepare, or two days if you count the 12 hours needed for soaking the beans and the time spent scouring the fields and hedgerows for the wild herbs. It would be a great course for Sapori e Saperi Adventurers. I’ve signed up for the jury on Friday and Saturday evenings and am already wondering, what is the equivalent of a tiebreaker in a soup tournament — who can throw their soup pot through the kitchen window first? If they’re not all deep dark family secrets, I’ll come back with some recipes.
In case you’re near Lucca and are in the mood for some good warming soup, the full programme is at: Disfida della Zuppa 2010 (it takes forever to load, Slow Web?). If you need a translation, send me an email at email@example.com
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