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An insider's view of Tuscany

Raymond Lamothe Facebook



A brief look at Tuscan food.

The different regions of Italy offer an incredible variety of dishes. Italy was once a series of city-states that later developed into regions with their own very distinctive cooking traditions.

Tuscan cooking is fairly simple. It is based very fresh products, on mixed grills of meat and poultry, excellent pasta dishes and not very clever desserts. The best known Tuscan meat is the large T-bone steak carved from the large white Chianina ox. It is called "Bistecca alla Fiorentina", and is wonderful. This large steak is cooked quickly on an open grill and needs to be crunchy on the outside and bloody on the inside. Shy from it if you like your meat well-done. The taste is ruined by too much cooking.

Pasta dishes based on wild boar, porcini mushrooms and truffles are fantastic. These are common to both Tuscany and Umbria. Be advised, however, that wild boar hunting season is from November to February. This means that a plate of pasta with wild boar sauce in August has to be made from a frozen piece of meat. Mushrooms are in abundance from September to November. Truffles are available in late October, November and early December. In other seasons, the truffles you get come out of jars.

Both Tuscany and Umbria are famous for their pork products: prosciutto, salamis of all kinds, the famous "Finocchiona" that is made with fennel seeds, capocollo, etc. The top of top are products from the Cinta Senese pigs. I have written another blog dedicated entirely to these wonderful animal.

These appetizers are usually served at the beginning of a meal and are called "antipasti". Another two well-known appetizers are "Crostini" and the two basic versions are slices of Tuscan bread with a delightful liver patè, or the "Fettunta" - basically, a roasted slice of bread, rubbed with garlic and slathered in fresh extra virgin olive oil. In summer, diced up tomato and basil are added to it.

Wines in Tuscany are excellent and incredibly varied, running from a normal Chianti to a finer Chianti Classico, to a noble Montepulciano or a Carmignano to the king of wines, the Brunello di Montalcino. They are not cheap, but they are wonderful. Wines and extra virgin first press olive oil are the main products of the region.

Umbrian wines are fewer and often heavier, with a few delightful exceptions. They are all less famous, but this is due to change in the course of time.

Taste everything - go for it - it is all a good experience for you. I will be dedicating two separate blogs to wines and to olive oil to help clear the situation for you from all the complications and fears created by wine buffs.

My personal philosophy, after working for 5 years (when I was a young guy who knew nothing about wines) for the Chianti Classico Wine Consortium, is that if you like a wine, then drink it. If it tastes or looks funny or smells strange, toss it out. This advice was given to me by one of the master wine tasters who sat on the tasting panel of the Consortium for more than 20 years. He could smell a wine and tell you from what area of the Chianti Classico region it came from, and often enough, the name of the producer. So just drink what you like.


Cinta che mangia Cinta che Beve

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