Author(s): Emiko Davies
Acquacotta is a celebration of the traditional cuisine of a lesser known part of Tuscany, the Silver Coast, which forms part of the territory of Maremma. Acquacotta, literally meaning "cooked water," is Maremma's most famous dish, a soup made of slowly simmered tomatoes and onions and poached eggs. There are countless variations, and every town has its own.
The book includes personal stories, memories and lessons from the people (producers, winemakers, breeders, fisherman) Emiko has met. The Silver Coast is a geographically quite narrow area in the southernmost coastal part of the region - and includes the island-like promontory of Monte Argentario, the island of Giglio, the lagoon town of Orbetello and the last Tuscan town on the border of Lazio, Capalbio. Surrounded by thick, wild boar-inhabiting, forest-covered hills and twisted, ancient olive trees, the area is known for its rustic peasant cooking, where hearty soups, hand-reared chickens or rabbits, foraged wild vegetables, mushrooms and chestnuts and wild-caught game have long provided sustenance - and still colour the local cuisine.
Acquacotta will champion the food Emiko loves to eat and cook - comforting, low-maintenance and easy to prepare. It's food that calls for sharing with friends or family, gathered around a big table. And like most peasant cuisine, it is about getting the best out of a few ingredients and providing a belly-filling meal that not only doesn't cost the earth, but is delicious.
Acquacotta offers more than 80 recipes across five chapters divided by themes:
Dal Bosco - which means feed from the woods and includes foraged and hunted foods; Dal Mare - which means from the sea and includes typical seafood of the area including from the lagoon; Dal Orto - which means from the vegetable patch; Dal Fattoria - which means from the farm and include dishes inspired by the farm tradition in the area, which often includes legumes, grains, rabbit, poultry and eggs; Dolci - sweets, preserves and homemade liquors.
'Acquacotta is a serious and authoritative homage to the foodways of this little-known but lovely corner of Tuscany, its history, its influences, its landscape and its wonderful produce. Every dish in this book respects local knowledge and tradition and thanks to the author's brilliant photography, its essential nature is revealed for all to see and understand. I love it.' - Stephanie Alexander
After growing up in an international household - she spent eight childhood/teen years living in Beijing, China, with her Japanese mother and Australian father - it was perhaps inevitable that Emiko Davies would find herself halfway around the world later in life. She first visited Florence while studying at Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island (where she subsequently graduated with a Fine Arts degree in printmaking). On her first visit to Italy as part of a semester abroad arrangement, 21-year-old Davies arrived at Santa Maria Novella station with nothing but a suitcase and some broken Italian. Captivated by the country's culture and beauty, she returned four years later as the recipient of an Italian government scholarship to study art restoration. She also met and fell in love with handsome local sommelier Marco Lami - in her words, her ideal gastronomic partner in crime. Regional Italian cuisine won her affections, too (her favourite dishes include the eggless milk pudding dessert biancomangiare, and baby octopus soup). Davies began her now five-year-old blog www.emikodavies.com while living in Florence as a way to tell a story that she had become increasingly fascinated with: about Tuscan food, its history and almost strict adherence to traditions. But after seven years in Florence, with the economic crisis setting deep in Italy, she and Lami decided to move to Australia - first to Melbourne, where now two-year-old Mariu was born, then Canberra to be with family. During this time, Davies focused on her writing (including the major coup of a weekly column on regional Italian food for popular New York-based website Food52), and Lami worked for some of the country's top restaurateurs, including Andrew McConnell and Neil Perry. Italy's pull proved too strong, however, and the couple relocated there indefinitely with their daughter in March 2015. Lami, whose family are from the town of Fucecchio in the greater province of Florence, has taken a seasonal job as head sommelier at Michelin-starred Il Pellicano at a resort on an island in southern Tuscany. And Davies will continue her writing from there, including a new biweekly column for Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. The theme of the Cucina Corriere blog is classic Italian cookbooks - essentially she shares often forgotten jewels from classic, sometimes historic, Italian cookbooks. Food52 co-founder Amanda Hesser (also editor of The Essential New York Times Cookbook) calls Davies a "renaissance woman for the internet era". Anyone familiar with Davies' blog will know those words to be true: in addition to her formidable cooking and writing talents, Davies is an accomplished photographer and illustrator.