Why You Need to Know About Toscana Food
Tuscany is the region in the center of Italy, with sweeping views of the Alpi Apuane Mountains and Apennines and with famous marble quarries. Tuscany is home to Volterra, Luni, Pisa and Florence.
Tuscany has large forests, villages, hills, beaches and lakes. Olives, grapevines and villas are seen throughout the area, and this is where cattle and sheep farming happen, too. The fertile land creates the basis of many spectacular dishes in this area of Italy.
Since Tuscany has so many remote and agricultural areas, this region has traditionally produced hearty and delicious cuisine based on local ingredients. This area of Italy is known for rustic, simple foods with plenty of flavor. In fact, Tuscany is famous for its “cucina povera,” or cuisine based on a peasant past where times were often hard. The people of Tuscany learned to make delicious dishes without fancy or imported ingredients out of necessity, and now we prize their delicious ingenuity.
What to Eat
Wild boar from the forests has been a local classic for generations, especially in the form of pappardelle al sugo di cinghiale. This dish combines tomato sauce and wild boar with pappardelle pasta. It is served with a red local wine.
Since olives grow in the region, there are many local places to take your olives to create fresh olive oil. Not surprisingly, fruity and fresh olive oil is the staple of many local dishes. Legumes and vegetables from local farms also make their way to the table, so a Tuscan meal is likely to include beans, kale, peas, tomatoes, chickpeas and artichokes.
Tuscan bread is rustic and made without salt. It tastes pretty bland by itself, but when it’s paired with other traditional Tuscan fare, like soup or thick, rich sauces, it complements rather than takes away from the other flavors. Crostini, toasted bread topped with meat or pate, is also popular. Pasta, of course, is a big classic in Tuscany, too. It is often served with meat sauces and is made in thick ribbons with eggs, creating a hearty base for rustic dishes.
Rice is often combined with meat and mushroom dishes, as well as entrails or giblets. In fact, a type of tripe known as lampredotto is often served as a street food along with a chunk of bread. For those with more Western appetites, Florentine steaks are slow-grilled over herbs and juniper. Fish stew and fish dishes such as triglie alla Livornese, speak to Tuscany’s link to the sea.
When it comes to cheese and salumi, Tuscany is known for sheep’s milk cheeses such as Pecorino di Pienza as well as local sausages such as Sanbudello. Bread is often topped with Lardo di Colonnata DOP, a traditionally aged lard.
After the Meal
Tuscany is also famous for many sweet desserts, such as:
- Ricciarelli, a chewy almond cookie
- Confetti pistoiesi, a white round candy with flavorings such as vanilla and aniseed
- Zuccotto fiorentino, an ice cream cake
- Castagnaccio, a cake made from raisins, chestnut flour, pine nuts, olive oil and rosemary
Drinks most often served with meals include Vernaccia, Chianti, Moscatello di Montalcino and other local wines.
If you’re curious about Italian food, you don’t have to go far. Even if you don’t know a word of the language, you will feel right at home in the upscale but welcoming atmosphere at Bricco. You can reserve a table at Bricco today to experience a taste of Italy for yourself.