Top 10 food choices to try in Tuscany

What makes Tuscany such a paradise on earth is definitely its breathtaking landscape, but that goes in hand with the incredible cities and towns it offers and, it goes without saying, food.

 Italian cuisine is arguably the best in the world, as it is so simple yet so refined, so tasty yet healthy; it is quintessential to the Italian culture. Traditional Tuscan food finds the perfect combination and balance between simplicity and quality, as it is based on the so-called “cucina povera”, that is, on the peasant traditions that arose out of necessity in hard times.

It should not come as a surprise, then, that the top dishes of the region are based on the produce of the land; Tuscan people are proper locavores, they take enormous pride in knowing where their food comes from (just as in many other places in Italy), and they also believe in eating seasonally. That is why the tourists who travel to Tuscany, either for a trip to Florence or Siena, in a city or in the countryside, should know in advance what to expect and want they should not!

Here is a list of the top-credited and popular Tuscan dishes in order for you to get a better idea on what to get when staring at that 3-course menu in the restaurants of Tuscany.

Whether the restaurant is family-run or located in a posh area of Florence, it is better to know in advance the recipe to imagine what the chosen meal would taste like. So here is your personal guide tour into the delicious heart of the Tuscan cuisine!

1. Bistecca Alla Fiorentina

Arguably the most famous steak in Italy or the most famous dish of Florence, the Florentine Steak is a T-Bone steak that is served very rare, or "al sangue." True to the Tuscan tradition of simplicity, it is typically enjoyed with just a bit of olive oil and salt to bring out its natural flavour.

This delicious steak is produced from a type of meat called Chianina, an Italian breed of cattle, formerly principally a draught breed, now raised mainly for beef.

2. Trippa & Lampredotto

Trippa and Lampredotto are good examples of the regional peasants’ tradition in Tuscan cuisine.

When times were hard, peasants could hardly afford to have a steak on their tables every day, so they learned to put every part of their livestock to good use. Trippa (or Tripe) is the edible lining of a cow’s stomach, and Lampredotto is the cow’s fourth stomach. Lampredotto in particular is a Florentine street food specialty!

Maybe it is not a type of dish that would appeal to every palate, but it is definitely worth trying and tasting!

3. Castagnaccio

 Castagnaccio is a traditional Tuscan dessert made with Chestnut flour, raisins, and pine nuts, seasoned with a bit of salt, olive oil, rosemary. The ingredients are mixed with water and baked to make a thin, dense cake.

It is eaten warm or cold, and is perfect paired with a sweet Tuscan dessert wine, such as Vin Santo or with a cup of coffee.

4. Schiacciata all’Uva

 Тhis is one of those things that you crave for many months of the year but can only find for a fleeting moment. Then you have to wait patiently for the rest of the year before they will appear again in bakery shop windows.

Schiacciata all’uva is only available for a few weeks from mid-September to early October, during the grape harvest. Sweet Canaiolo grapes or American concord grapes, called uva fragola in Italian (“strawberry grapes”) are used to turn Schiacciata, a tasty and savoury flatbread, into a sweet doughy speciality.

5. Ribollita

 "Ribollita" literally means "reboiled" and was traditionally made by reboiling leftover minestrone (the traditional Italian soup).

It is a hearty, filling soup made with black cabbage and other seasonal veggies, beans, and stale bread (nothing goes to waste for a good Tuscan chef!) and is usually enjoyed during wintertime.

6. Pappa al Pomodoro

 Pappa al Pomodoro is another thick bread-based soup, this time prepared with tomato and basil, among other seasonal vegetables. It is often served as another warm wintertime comfort food, but since it can also be served room temperature or chilled, it is a popular choice for buffets and appetizers!

7. Panzanella

 Since Tuscan bread goes stale within a few days if not eaten, Panzanella is yet another way to make good use of it, this time as a salad.

The bread is soaked in water and vinegar, squeezed dry, and mixed with fresh chopped cucumber, onion, tomato, and basil. It is perfect in the hot Tuscan summer since it does not need any cooking and is served refreshingly chilled.

8. Pappardelle and truffles

 Not quite "cucina povera," Truffles are a specialty in Tuscany, but are much more attainable than they are in other parts of the world. Truffles cannot be cultivated, so they must be hunted for in the woods using a dog or pig to sniff them out. Truffles can be saved and used year-round, but October and November provide the perfect truffle-friendly climate, making them a traditional Autumn ingredient. They are perfect with fresh handmade Pappardelle.

Pappardelle pasta is also often enjoyed with read sauce and wild boar meat or with a sprinkle of pecorino cheese (a hard, salty Italian cheese, often used for grating, made out of sheep's milk).

Pappardelle pasta is always at its best if accompanied by a bottle of Chianti wine.

9. Crostini di Fegatini

 Crostini di Fegatini are slices of warm bread with a spread of chicken liver pate.

The pate is typically prepared with butter, anchovies, capers, onion and broth, and the crostini are served as an appetizer or snack.

10. Coccoli Prosciutto & Stracchino

 Last but not least, coccoli, salty fried balls of dough, are a quintessential Tuscan comfort food - in fact the name literally translates to cuddles. They are often eaten as an appetizer and served with ham and Stracchino, a fresh soft cheese.

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