A Culinary Adventure in Italy
Tuscany evokes images in the mind’s eye of rolling hills with vineyards, ancient stone cities baking under an Italian sun, Lombardy poplars swaying in the breeze, and happy families eating alfresco sharing wine, pasta and bread in the cool of the evening.
This large region of central Italy comprising 10 provinces is best known as the birthplace of the Renaissance. Lovers of culture, art and history flock to this region to see the capital city of Florence, Siena, Pienza, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Cathedral of Pisa, the Val d’Orcia, San Gimignano, and the Medici Villas and Gardens – all UNESCO World Heritage sites. Florence alone receives millions of visitors each year.
Tuscany is equally well known for its wines. But this is an area as well where the cuisine is simple, yet the ultimate in good taste and culinary enjoyment. Food here revolves around the earth : mushrooms, fruit, bread, cheese, and vegetables – ingredients found on the local farms and in the markets. Olive oil is important with olive orchards found both commercially and in small private holdings. And the most “earthy” ingredient of all, andthe toast of many a gourmet fare, the truffle, is hunted here in late autumn.
So what top 10 items should you look for when you dine in Tuscany?
1. Wine especially Chianti for which the region is famous around the world ( but don’t pass up the other wonderful wines produced here such as Brunello di Montalcino)
2. Liver Crostini. It is a starter made from a paste of chicken liver, capers, anchovies, onions, and broth spread on thinly sliced warmed bread or toast.
3. Florentine steak. This is a thick steak, almost raw when served.
4. Soup such as ribollita . A soup base is always a variation of vegetables, bread or tomatoes served with olive oil and ground black pepper, traditionally made from yesterday’s soup as a starting point.
5. Wild boar or other wild game such as deer , hare and pheasant.
6. Tripe and lampredotto. Both are the innards of a cow served sandwich style from street kiosks with green sauce and vegetables. No part of an animal is wasted here.
7. Pici. Thick grainy pasta usually rolled by hand rather than machine.
8. Pecorino. This is a cheese made from sheep’s milk , often served with a spoon of fruit pickles or honey with truffles.
9. Filone. This is an unsalted bread which originated in the time of Pope Paolo III ( 1500’s)who severely taxed salt consequently, salted bread became too expensive to make.
10. Ricciarelli. Biscuits of an almond base, sugar, egg whites and honey.
Article first appeared in The Travel Bucket.
Photos courtesy of pixabay.com and bigstock.com