The true story of Zagarolo’s Tordo Matto recipe


A truly incredible story links Tordo Matto to the culinary tradition of Zagarolo: and when a special taste is born from a fairy tale, tradition becomes part of the history of an entire town. This is the story of a dish that saved the life of an entire town.

Il Tordo Matto is perhaps the typical dish of Zagarolo: a roll of horse meat cooked with the experience of generations. You can taste it in all the traditional local Zagarolo eateries, but do not get confused by the name.

The history and the dish are celebrated with a festival of medieval tastes that takes us back to the era when the recipe was created: from the luck and genuine hands of a peasant woman who had to feed a soldier to protect her safety.

It was the period when the Lanzichenecchi, ruthless and violent German mercenary soldiers, had been enlisted by the Holy Roman Empire to plunder Rome and neighbouring towns. The soldiers threatened Zagarolo and forced the inhabitants to flee the town and live in the countryside.

An unfortunate family of peasants found themselves having to defend themselves from a German fighter who, wounded and beaten, reached the country house with his horse, battered like him by the wounds of the war. The soldier asked for asylum, treatment and to be fed.

In times of war and poverty nobody had food for themselves and certainly not for the ill-desired guests: but such was the hunger and anger of the soldier that it was necessary to find a solution as soon as possible to save her life.

The horse’s death therefore became providential for the woman who decided to improvise a dish based on horse meat !!

The soldier, not satisfied with the first taste, continued to shout “drossel”, which in German means thrush, and the woman continues to experiment with new combinations of horse meat, spices and good red wine until the man was fed and happy.

The result was a “miraculous” and “innovative” recipe that took the soldier away from that house without leaving traces of his coming and going!

The family of farmers told of the extraordinary adventure they had experienced with that “crazy soldier” who shouted “drossel” and how it all ended well thanks to the taste of a special horse meat roll called immediately with the name of Tordo Matto.

A roll that has since become a symbol of the village of Zagarolo!