Tuscany, situated in north central Italy and extending inland from the Mediterranean coast, is very important to Italy’s history. From the Middle Ages through the Renaissance, it was one of the most powerful states in Italy and Europe. Tuscany (particularly its capital, Florence) is the birthplace of the Renaissance that eventually blossomed throughout Europe and ushered forth fresh, unique food.
Tuscany’s cuisine is simple, incorporating fresh, local ingredients and following the three-ingredient rule of Italian cooking. Some common ingredients include beans, fresh produce, wild game, chianina beef, and mushrooms and truffles. The countryside and climate are ideal for growing grapes and olive trees, which allows Tuscany to produce some of the best olive oil and wine in Italy.
When it comes to dining, Tuscans like to take mealtime seriously, especially dinner or weekend midday meals. It isn’t uncommon for family and friends to get together for hours and linger over many courses and pairing with local wines.
The meal begins with Apertivo, which is kind of a warm-up to dinner (think of it like Happy Hour after work!). Typical fare at this time includes crostini spread with chicken liver or cannellini beans, cured meats and cheeses, or in-season stuffed zucchini blossoms. Prosecco is often served with this course.
The next course is called Primo, which usually spotlights pasta or often soup. Typical pastas include pappardelle with a wild boar or rabbit ragu or tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms or truffle sauce. Diners enjoy famous Tuscan soups such as minestrone, la ribollita or pappa al pomodoro paired with a nice local Chianti.
The Secondo course is often bistecca alla fiorentina or roasted pork. A richer red wine like a Brunello di Montalcino works well for this course. These dishes are often accompanied by a contorno (side dishes) such as roasted potatoes or vegetables.
Unlike meals here in the United States, Italians eat their insalata (salad) after the meal to help clean the palate. Salads are extremely simple and feature greens, maybe some light cheese, and a few vegetables drizzled with olive oil and vinegar. Finally, dolce, or dessert, often includes an espresso (never cappuccino after noon), a small glass of Vin Santo or Grappa with a biscotti, or a cup of gelato purchased on the way home.
Want to experience a real taste of Tuscany? Be sure to order one of our meal kits to enjoy with your friends and family today!