Cacciucco is a fish-based dish, properly typical of Livorno and Viareggio cuisine. It is a fish soup made up of different qualities of fish, crustaceans and molluscs, usually octopus, cuttlefish, cicadas, scorpion fish and other
so-called "poor" fish varieties.
The traditional cacciucco recipe included thirteen fish species. It must be said, however, that the species used in the vast majority of written records are reduced to 6/7 types of fish, which may vary by virtue of the catch of the day.
“The preparation called cacciucco alla livornese has been recognized as a traditional agro-food product, included by the Ministry of Agriculture in the list of typical Tuscan products protected by the quality mark.”
The word cacciucco comes from the Turkish "kuciuk", which means "small, minute". In Tuscany it has taken on the meaning of “mixture”, and there are recipes for meat, game, chicken, chickpea cacciucchi and so on. However, the most “traditional” cacciucco is a soup made from pieces of various fish, and was born in Livorno due to the need to use even the poorest species that ended up in the nets.
Origin and legends
There are numerous hypotheses and imaginative versions relating to the origins of cacciucco. Some want it as a sort of symbol of popular generosity, a dish born from the collection of fish offered by fishermen to the family of their companion who died during a storm.
Another legend wants it to symbolize the origins of Livorno and its population made up of an amalgam of different peoples and communities: Jewish, Armenian, Greek, Levantine, German, Portuguese, French, Anglican and Dutch. The fusion of the various cultures, religions and traditions, including gastronomic ones, would therefore be represented by the cacciucco.