Noch Fragen? Kontaktiere Sie uns!Wir sind bemüht innerhalb eines Werktages zu antworten.
17.09.2021 14:43 by Tobias Lohmann
Picturesque cypress avenues, narrow winding roads over gentle, rolling hills, and paths that lead to green vineyards and olive groves. Morning sun that slowly stretches its beams, piercing the early morning mist that has settled in the valleys. A peaceful, enchanting silence. A dreamlike beauty. Yet this is not a dream. It is a beautiful reality in the form of the 23,000 square kilometre region with a melodious name: Tuscany.
Tuscany: A name that brings forth images of warm sun, wineries, and historical cities; of azure sea, olive trees and delicious cuisine. Simply bringing such images of this famous Italian region to mind is sure to stir that unmistakable feeling of wanderlust. The narrow city streets are as much a part of Tuscany as its renowned wines, shady pine forests, and poppy fields.
The traditional cuisine of a country can reveal just as much about its culture, climate, history, and people as it’s buildings and landscapes. And Tuscany, Italy’s most popular holiday destination, is famous for its culinary delights. “Mangiare senz pane e come non mangiare” – “Eating without bread is like not eating at all”: Traditional Tuscan cuisine is as simple and original as their unique bread, yet full of surprising variety, with each city offering a delicious delicacy of their own. The Italian dolce vita begins at the table!
Curious to find out more about the taste of Tuscany? Then accompany us as we explore the wonderful flavours of traditional and modern Tuscany. And if you can’t wait for a trip to the region, try out the Tuscan pepper goulash recipe at the end of this post!
Tuscan cuisine is not unnecessarily complicated, based on simple yet tasty ingredients. The rural traditions and their simplicity are largely due to the historical poverty that once affected a large part of the population. Tuscan specialities are not difficult to prepare, allowing the dishes to be made quickly and easily.
Today you can still discover and taste the origins of Tuscan cuisine through the key ingredients of bread, olive oil, wine, and plenty of vegetables. Though recipe names such as Panzanella, a bread salad, or the meat dish Bistecca alla Fiorentina, or Gnudi burro e salvia, a pasta dish with butter and sage, may evoke high culinary art, the cuisine is in fact quite simple. Tuscan cooking is based on the wonderful principles of lightness and closeness to nature and can be described as sophisticated and rustic.
So, it is no coincidence that it is often called "the cuisine of a farmer, worthy of a king". There are no heavy sauces or over seasoned dishes. Unlike the rest of Italy, Tuscan cuisine has remained to this day relatively untouched by foreign influences, holding to its basic pillars of bread, olive oil, garlic and pecorino, along with beans and peas which stay in season all year round.
Many staple foods are still produced at home today such as wine, ham, salami, many vegetables, fruits, and herbs and of course the unparalleled extra virgin olive oil, a must at every meal. Together with tomatoes and wine, this delicious oil is the basis for many pasta, meat, and fish sauces. Thanks to the Tuscan climate, there is always a rich harvest of delicious and aromatic herbs such as laurel, basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary and many more.
The numerous woods in the region have resulted in game-based cuisine being one of Tuscany’s many specialities. Pork, beef, lamb, poultry, goat, rabbit, wild boar, pheasant, and pigeon are enjoyed in many different ways whether it be grilled, boiled, baked, or braised. A particularly popular dish is Bistecca alla fiorentina, an oversized T-bone steak from the white Chianina cattle. And once predominantly a food source for the poor, dishes made from sweet chestnuts are now also very popular, with chestnut trees being abundant in Tuscany.
A good Tuscan dish is, of course, accompanied by a suitable wine. Tuscany offers a large selection of red, white, and rosé wines, which are exported worldwide.
There is still one more ingredient that should never be forgotten: the Tuscan lifestyle that infects every traveller to the region. Sitting in the garden on a mild summer night, breathing in the fresh night air and enjoying culinary delicacies in good company all play a part in creating the magical Tuscan experience.
Tuscan cuisine has been largely characterised by its peasant tradition. Tuscans love their meat, especially when grilled, as the old farmhouses only had a fireplace for cooking and so grilling meat was the easiest and quickest way to prepare it. Another reason for the popularity of game meat is the fact that the ancestors of today’s Tuscans had to survive on what their environment had to offer, and in wooded areas like the north of Tuscany, this was predominantly game.
Fish only has a secondary role in the cuisine of the region, only surpassing meat in popularity in costal regions. Simply by travelling slightly inland you will notice the increase of meat dishes on menus once more. These dishes are often supplemented with vegetables either steamed, fried, grilled, or as a salad.
Even vegetable leftovers have become a special delicacy in Tuscany. The famous Tuscan vegetable stew Ribollita, meaning “re-boiled”, was originally made from a mix of leftover vegetables and stale bread. However, this “poor people’s stew” has now made its way onto the menu of some of the best Italian restaurants all around the world.
If you have ever tried Tuscan white bread, you are likely to have noticed that is made without any salt. This regional peculiarity is often quite flavourless, leaving travellers wondering why the bread is made this way. Is it intentional or accidental? To find out the answer, we need to turn to history. This saltless bread came about due to a strike.
In 1531 Pope Paul III imposed a salt tax, forcing the people of Tuscany and Umbria to buy their salt at an immense price from the papal salt mines. The Pope hoped to use the revenue to finance the fight against Lutheran heretics. However, this instead led to the so-called “Guerra del Sale”, the “Salt War”, resulting in a tragic blood bath. Salt, which at the time was incredibly valuable, necessary for preserving food, had become unaffordable from one day to the next. An obvious way to save on salt was to leave it out of the bread. This solution to save money on the overpriced salt ended up creating something truly brilliant, as saltless bread became the perfect neutral base for salty antipasti, sausage and ham, and a veritable “bread cuisine” was created around this unique white loaf.
At the time, bread was an enormously important food and even without salt it was too expensive to throw away. This led to the bread simply being used in soups to make them more substantial.
Learning about the Etruscans, the Medici, and the Renaissance is only a part of what can be experienced and discovered on a trip through Tuscany. The ten provinces of the region offer a truly remarkable culinary round trip, with each offering their own specialities, many of which are known beyond the borders of Italy.
Tuscan cuisine is full of variety as the region lays claim to both coastal and forested areas. Whether the dish features seafood or game depends where in Tuscany you find yourself, and individual towns all have their own special dishes.
Colonnata, situated at the foot of the Apuan Alps in the province of Massa-Carrara, is famous for its air-dried bacon. Cut very thinly, it tastes best on Tuscan bread. This small town’s sweet rice cake is also famous in Italy: a tart-like cake made of rice and milk with a pudding-like filling.
Further south in the province of Pisa, fish begins to find its way to the plate. Here it is worth trying the sweet and sour stockfish, known in Tuscany as Stoccafisso. Bavettini, a special type of spaghetti served with fresh fish, is also a Pisan specialty.
Black rice with cuttlefish from the port city of Livorno is another delicious and well-known dish. The rice is prepared, and coloured black, with cuttlefish ink, another delicacy. Tripe made in the Florentine style, naturally from Florence, may be a little difficult to get used to, but is nevertheless very tasty.
And what would Tuscany be without cantuccini and the sweet dessert wine Vin Santo? This rock-hard almond sweet from Prato, near Florence, must be dipped into the "holy wine" to soften it before eating - a delicate dessert that is popular beyond the borders of Tuscany, throughout Italy.
The Chianti region lies in the heart of Tuscany and is home to arguably the most famous Italian wine. Other delicious though lesser well-known wines are produced further south. To get a true impression of the region’s cuisine, it is well worthwhile to travel through the Tuscan wine provinces.
Are you hungry to experience Tuscany first-hand? One of the best ways to discover this delicious region is on a round trip through the many, unique provinces. Just like love, the way to a country and its culture, is through the stomach! Though everyone wants to return home from travelling with new memories and cherished experience, fewer want to bring home extra kilograms as a souvenir. So, wouldn’t it be great to be able to work off the extra calories along the way?
Islandhopping has the perfect solution: weeklong round trips by bike or MTB and boat! With a tall ship as your floating hotel you can travel in complete comfort and relaxation while enjoying the added sailing experience. Daily bike tours provide exercise with stunning views so that you can truly dive into and experience everything Tuscany has to offer.
To give you a taste of Tuscany at home, we have included a typical Tuscan recipe for you to try yourself: the famous pepper goulash Peposo del Valdarno. Bring Tuscany directly to your table in anticipation of the real dolce vita. Enjoy!
Peposo del Valdarno (Valdarno pepper goulash)
Servings: 4 personsCooking time: 90 minutes
1 kg veal shank1 litre red wine (Chianti)Salt to tasteBlack peppercornsGround pepper5 unpeeled garlic clovesSageRosemary4 juniper berries1 red onion1 carrot200 g tomato-passata
1. Mix the ground pepper and salt in a small bowl. Finely chop the onion and carrot and put aside.2. Cut the veal shank into cube like pieces, but not too small.3. Coat the pieces of meat in the previously prepared salt and pepper mixture.4. Place the meat in a pot with the unpeeled garlic, sage and rosemary, about 15 black peppercorns, juniper berries, onion, carrot and tomato-passata.5. Cover everything with red wine and quickly bring to the boil over a high heat.6. Once boiling, turn the heat down to a minimum and let it cook for at least 2 hours, checking occasionally if there is still enough wine in the pot. If the contents of the pot seem too dry, gradually add a little more wine.7. Stir frequently during cooking.