Florence has one of the greatest cultural and artistic heritages in the world. But apart from being a culture paradise, it is also a culinary mecca, as it concentrates the best of Italian cuisine with the specific cuisine of the Tuscan region, considered by many to be the best of Italy.
The landscape of Tuscany is known for its beautiful fields of herbs, vines, fruit trees, olive and chestnut forests. And as in other geographic areas, these are the ingredients which over the years have composed the base of the traditional cuisine of the region.
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Tuscan cuisine is simple, homemade, but very healthy and rich in fresh seasonal products. Apart from the usual pasta dishes known throughout the world, Tuscan cuisine is better known by its hearty recipes made from local products such as chestnuts, mushrooms, vegetables, herbs and their prestigious olive oil.
So if you’re spending a few days in Florence forget about the pizza and explore the real Tuscan cuisine. You will enjoy traditional dishes made from high-quality products. To get you started, I’ll tempt you with what the Tuscans eat for dinner:
Aperitivo: The Tuscan Appetizer
In general, the Florentines always start a meal with an appetizer. This consists of crostini de fegatini (toast with chicken liver pate, capers, butter, and anchovies), bruschettas (Tuscan bread with tomato, basil and olive oil) or various meats, like cured ham or finocchiona (Florentine sausage).
Il Primo: The First Course
Pasta lovers can go for the pappardelle alla lebre (a kind of tagliatelle with rabbit). Or pappardelle with other classic ingredients, such as mushrooms, ragout, artichokes, sausage, etc.
Other typical first courses in Tuscan cuisine are soups: pappa al pomodoro, ribollita, carabaccia or minestra al cavolo nero. They are all variants of the same base (vegetables, bread or tomatoes) where additional ingredients are added for flavor. They are served hot with a little extra virgin olive oil on top.
Il Secondo: The Second Course
The most famous dish is probably the Florentine steak. Thick and semi-raw, this steak is a real institution in Florence. It’s usually accompanied by beans, baked potatoes or salad. But apart from this, you can also find other specialties such as trippa alla Fiorentina (tripe with tomato). The typical Tuscan bread is unsalted (sciocco), which blends in well with any dish.
La Dolce: The Dessert
Florence doesn’t have a grand tradition of sweets or pastries, however, there is a very popular dessert from their neighbors in Prato: cantucci (small almond biscuits) dipped in “Vinsanto” (sweet wine). There are also typical castagnaccio, made with chestnut flour and pine nuts, or the schiacciata alla fiorentina, a pastry which can be filled with cream, custard or chocolate and covered with sugar. Besides sweets, desserts can also include fruit or cheese, but you may prefer to go for an ice cream to one of their famous “Gelaterias” as you stroll back to your hotel or apartment.
– Beware if you go for the Florentine steaks! The prices are listed by weight, usually in quarter kilos, so take this into account if you want to avoid being shocked by the final bill!
– In some restaurants, it is usual to share a table with strangers. Don’t be surprised!
How about you? Have you been to Florence and had any of this food? How about making Tuscan at home?
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