The Best of Tuscany, Part 1: Food
Italy is a country known for its beloved passion for cooking and dining. Within the region of Tuscany, similar to most regions of Italy, the food experience is taken very seriously. The experience starts with shopping for seasonal, lush ingredients. It carries on to the preparation - slow cooked meats, the perfectly salted fish, and rich garlic cooked on low with tomatoes. It ends with eating. But not just eating - actually enjoying your meal within the company of your family and friends. In Tuscany, food is meant to be enjoyed.
So let’s talk the best of Tuscan foods.
1/ Zuppa Toscana Soup
Tuscans love their soups. When I had the pleasure of spending time in Tuscany, it was all about the soups as an appetizer. Try the ribollita (homemade broth, fresh vegetables, and stale bread), pappa al pomodoro (tomato soup with stale bread), or black cabbage soup. As you can see, Tuscans are not a fan of wasting their bread, and we love them for it.
2/ Tuscan Pane Bread
You can count on each meal in Tuscany to be served alongside a basket of fresh baked bread. However, unlike most bread you have tasted through your life, Tuscan bread is made without salt. Interestingly enough, the Tuscans love it this way and have not even considered changing their recipe for us salt-loving tourists. They say that the bread is meant to sop up the remains of a meal anyway - whether those remains be tomato sauce, soup, or juices from meat. Eat up!
3/ Fagioli Cannellini
Tuscans are also particularly fond of cannellini white beans. Many times these beans are served warm and plain with your waiter instructing you to “add olive oil, salt, and pepper”. These Tuscan beans are often served alongside a meat dish with a side of vegetables.
4/ Tuscan Pasta
Of course no trip to Italy is complete without a piping bowl of fresh pasta. A traditional Tuscan pasta that is a must-try in the region is the handmade, sun dried pici. Typically served with a homemade garlic tomato sauce that has been simmering away for hours, this dish will make you think twice about returning to jarred tomato sauce and store bought pasta. Make sure to add a generous amount of pecorino cheese on top - because duh.
5/ Florentine Steak and Other Beef
Lastly, there is nothing like the mouthwatering Florentine steak or Bistecca alla Fiorentina. Typically a huge serving meant to be enjoyed family style, this steak comes out charred on the outside but nearly rare on the inside. The steak is normally seasoned with salt and is perfect served alongside spinach and cannellini beans.
There is no doubt that the foods in Tuscany are respectively some of the most delicious in the world. With careful preparation and local, high-quality ingredients, there is really no way to go wrong. Enjoy Tuscany and make sure to look back at my Wines of Tuscany post in order to properly pair your dishes with the perfect vino.
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