Monday, June 7, 2010

This Weeks Three Course Menu...A Taste of Tuscany!

Tuscan cuisine has a great tradition in the culture of the region. Tuscan people love good food. The cuisine is characterized by simple dishes made from healthy ingredients.

Among the characteristic features of Tuscan cuisine, we can find olive oil of excellent quality and the wise use of spices such as thyme, sage, rosemary, basil and tarragon. These spices are found in a variety of dishes, soups, meats, fish and desserts.

Tuscan culinary tradition is strongly influenced by the characteristics typical of the Tuscan landscape itself. Local seasonal vegetables such as fennel, artichokes, garlic and tomatoes are widely used. The humble bean, which grows beautifully in Tuscany, is used in many different ways to get tasty dishes such as beans with pork sausage.

Among other interesting local ingredients are the chestnuts, mushrooms, game (wild boar and pheasant) and fish from the Tyrrhenian Sea. These dishes are complemented by local wines such as Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino

Many dishes have a close bond with poor cuisine of the past, a cuisine based mainly on the use of imaginative Tuscan unsalted bread and typical food of the times when people could not help but use their wits to make the best products available.

Tuscan cuisine includes also developed and sophisticated dishes. These include meats with a "dolceforte" ("sweet and strong") preparation, coming from the splendor of the Renaissance courts, where astounding guests was more important that satisfy the palate!

Every city has its own specialties. And this is easily found if one considers the many sweets and cakes typical holiday: the Gingerbread and Ricciarelli of Siena, the Cantucci of Prato (Prato typical sweet almond), the Chestnut (sweet chestnut flour typical of Lucca), the Zuccotto (typical of Florence) and Pie with Bischeri (a sweet Easter period, typical of Pisa, with rice, candied fruit, chocolate, raisins, pine nuts and liquor).