I have always had a deep interest in cooking (my mamma used to cook a lot!) and I am happy to share some of my favorite recipes with you. Most of them are authentic Tuscan recipes. But you must realize I am a Milanese girl, and I came to the Val d’Orcia with northern cooking traditions in my blood. So you will find I have included a few dishes from my native homeland, which I have “imported” with me to Tuscany, and that my Tuscan friends just LOVE.
The recipes I am sharing with you are all from within the circle of my family and friends. I love to share our little secrets with our guests! Please write to me any time about these recipes (if they are not clear, or you want additional advice!) or, if you woud like to see other recipes published on this page.
It is important to understand that Tuscan cooking is sober and presents simple tastes prepared with expertise and mastery. The simplicity of the dishes is rooted in a cultural history of poverty and misery, the cucina povera. For centuries, the difficult conditions of life imposed the use of poor, inexpensive food on the population—and this is the reason why oil is preferred instead of lard, and soups are preferred instead of pasta.
The fundamental food in Tuscany is, without doubt, bread; and, it is presented in one thousand shapes including the long loaf, the wheel, from crostini (crunchy bread) to focacce (a type of flat bread), from schiacciata (another kind of flat bread) to pan di ramerino (bread dough with raisins and rosemary). Also, bread with the absence of salt, which was once too expensive, represents the simplicity and the poverty that characterized the cooking traditions of this territory.
It is actually with bread as the primary ingredient that many Tuscan recipes are made, for example: panzanella, a summer salad made with bread that has been soaked in water and blended with fresh vegetables; pappa al pomodoro, which is bread cooked with garlic, parsley, basil, salt, oil and tomatoes; and, the famous ribollita, a soup boiled several times which came from peasants who warmed up day-old soup.
Today in Tuscany there is an incredible historical continuance that created authentic “capolavori del gusto” keeping things simple and using fresh ingredients of the highest quality. I hope you will try some of these recipes and bring a little of Tuscany into your own home, wherever you may live!