A land of Bread and Oil, a land of intense aromas, of great culinary masterpieces. “A ‘poor man’s cuisine that can be served at a king’s table‘, is how a statesman in the retinue of Vittorio Emanuele II described Tuscan gastronomy. The sacredness of bread, the importance of not throwing it away, even when it is stale, has given rise to the best known and most appreciated recipes.
It is hypothesised, despite the great differences, that French cuisine was born in Tuscany, when Catherine de’ Medici, on marrying Henry II of Valois and moving to France, surrounded herself with cooks and pastry chefs from her homeland.
The countryside and the sea, two essential elements for Tuscan cuisine, deeply linked to seasonal products made of simple but valuable ingredients, but also of conviviality, a fundamental part of its culture. The countryside gives us traditional but intense dishes, meat is the main ingredient in famous recipes such as Bistecca alla Fiorentina or Chianti tuna, Tripe and skilfully processed offal. The sea, an immense “cauldron” from which to draw fresh fish every day, is the protagonist of hundreds of recipes now known to all, Cacciucco alla Livornese, Triglie di scoglio in umido, and numerous first courses based on molluscs and crustaceans.
But we must not forget the green lung of Tuscany, rich in olive trees and vegetable gardens worked with hard work and love that give life to dishes such as Panzanella, Ribollita or the famous Pappa al Pomodoro (also the protagonist of a famous song from the 1960s).
It is a generous land, its precious olive oil, of intense colour and spicy flavour, with the “Fettunta” (slice of bread seasoned with oil) has accompanied the snacks of many children of every generation, while adults can enjoy tastings of fine wines renowned throughout the world, skilfully produced in the vast vineyards of Bolgheri, Montalcino and the Chianti area.
Special attention is paid to Tuscan desserts, a journey through ancient flavours that are renewed and handed down to new generations. The recipes of families, grandmothers and housewives who, with simple and genuine ingredients, were able to give life to sweets that have overcome time, such as Pinolata, Castagnaccio made with chestnut flour, or the renowned Panforte from the Siena area, Cantuccini from Prato, dry biscuits with almonds and sultanas, “Schiacciata” with grapes typical of the Florence and Grosseto areas or Buccellato, a sweet bread, already known in ancient Rome, typical of the Lucca area.