Simplicity, authenticity and goodness are the words that have been used to describe Tuscan dishes since the times when the pilgrims used to try local food in taverns situated en route, along the via Francigena. Tuscany is one of the regions with the highest amount of typical dishes, simple but tasty, thanks to numerous products from the area.
The Tuscan culinary tradition features great moderation. The “pane sciapo” (bread without salt) is the typical product of this region, praised by none other than Dante himself in the Divine Comedy, and dates back to the 12th century, when, at the height of the rivalry between Pisa and Florence, the people from Pisa stopped the trade of salt.
At the core of Tuscan cuisine, are the meats, cooked on a spit, on the grill, in the oven, stewed or boiled. On the other hand, whoever couldn’t afford it could put eggs, legumes and vegetables on the table, flavored with garlic, onion, flavorful herbs, salt and pepper, very common in a land of merchants like Tuscany.
However, we mustn’t forget the refined culinary ability of Caterina de’ Medici’s personal cooks, who took exquisite dishes all the way to France, setting, in the process, the basis for the most elaborate western cuisine. Celebrated recipes, like béchamel, orange duck and crepes, became protagonists of the French culinary tradition; they are, indeed, children of the Tuscan cuisine. A small curiosity: the cooks of Mugello, other than bringing olive oil, artichokes and the custom of cooking the “volatile all’arancio” to French banquets” , also introduced a device that nowadays many of us consider mundane… the fork!