When you discover Tuscany for a romantic or family vacation, in addition to choosing a cottage in Tuscany, for example, or another type of vacation rental (Villa, castle, farm Agriturismo Where apartment), if there is a subject not to be treated lightly, it is the traditional regional cuisine ! During your trip, you will enjoy yourself!
Tuscan cuisine in history
Tuscan cuisine is mainly made up of traditional dishes and desserts that have been made for centuries.
Bread without salt, for example, is a custom that few other regions have adopted. It seems that the custom dates back to the 12th century. At the height of the rivalry between Pisa and Florence, the Pisans sold the precious culinary ingredient at a high price. There is also a hypothesis that the lords of Florence themselves imposed particularly heavy taxes on salt.
Another characteristic of Tuscan cuisine is the use of white meat and game. Farm products, where chickens, turkeys, geese, guinea fowl and pigeons peck freely, rabbits and game such as hare and wild boar, pheasant and porcupine have always been on the menu for major celebrations. Pork is also widely used, just think of the famous salami and other special products resulting from the ingenuity of poor people.
Among the cheeses, tradition focuses on the hard pecorino: the most famous are Pienza and Maremma; while we find ricotta among the soft cheeses.
Finally, there is plenty of room for desserts like cantuccini di Prato. Nothing to complain about, when your stay in guest house will finally arrive, you won't run out of ideas in the kitchen! 🙂
A simple and local cuisine
Tuscan cuisine is characterized by the multiplicity of recipes and culinary traditions, especially with regard to the territory to which it belongs and the family tradition. Many Florentines traditionally go on vacation to the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea, in the region of Viareggio and on the island of Elba; however, they are often unaware of the existence of local dishes, which they then discover during their holidays. For this reason, many authors propose the expression “Tuscan cuisines” in the plural to better illustrate this reality.
Over time, middle-class cuisine has only found its place in recent centuries; it is distinguished by the increasing use in rural areas of white meat or game, typical of a wealthy middle class, as opposed to the systematic use of beef in urban areas, where the middle class average has grown. The consumption of game remains typical of rural and mountainous areas, where Tuscans like to go on holiday or vacation.
As mentioned earlier, the cuisine differs significantly from the coast in the interior of the country: the growth of the wild boar population has made it possible to use all its preparations almost everywhere. In Tuscany, as in many other parts of the country, selected meat is cured with salt, pepper and other spices and kept hanging in cool, dry environments.
Furthermore, freshwater fish are similar to poultry: they have been present on the tables of the poorest and least developed regions over the last centuries, and have their own culinary tradition. Consumed by the poorest sections of the population, they owe them the almost ubiquitous method of cooking with vegetables.
Strangely, it is with regard to vegetables that the differences are accentuated: chickpea flour is used almost exclusively on the coast, while, inexplicably, chestnut flour is also used outside the mountain areas. Spelled, a ubiquitous Etruscan food, was grown only in the north for many centuries and gives typical dishes like spelled soup. Until a few decades ago, corn was massively present in the center of Tuscany, and polenta was rather consumed in the mountains due to its low cost.
As for the production of cheeses, diverse and varied, it extends throughout the region.
The Tuscany Food Pyramid
An interesting initiative is the "Tuscany Food Pyramid": it is the first and only existing initiative to decline the products and habits necessary for a correct diet in a regional context, in accordance with the cultural characteristics and food traditions of the region. The pyramid provides simple and proven indications, respectful of cultural, agricultural and gastronomic traditions, useful to enable everyone to live in good health.
Researchers and scientists have selected certain products according to their organoleptic characteristics, their variety and their authenticity, their typicality, the proximity between the place of production and the place of consumption.
The result is the Tuscan food pyramid, in six levels which include, from bottom to top:
- Fruits and vegetables, ubiquitous in the kitchen
- Cereals and extra virgin olive oil
- Legumes, dried fruits, milk and yogurt
- Fish and Poultry
- Cheese, eggs and potatoes
- Finally, in less quantity at the top of the pyramid, meat, charcuterie and desserts
All washed down with an excellent Tuscan wine, and water at will!
You understand that your holidays in Tuscany won't be sad! A quiet cottage in the countryside, near cities of Art like Siena and Florence, a local trattoria that offers you this magnificent cuisine and an excellent wine to savor it all: isn't life beautiful?