The five dishes you need to try during your Tuscany trip are based on the traditional flavors using the freshest and simplest ingredients that pertain to the seasons. The custom of the Tuscan kitchen boasts a sense of regional flourish that celebrates the importance of locally sourced ingredients found at the market each week, often resulting in an easy preparation. The cuisine is so ingrained into the heritage of the region, the local government compiled a “Tuscan Food Pyramid” as a geographic representation of what are considered the 70 most essential products seen on the Tuscan table.
Tuscan chefs, both at home and in favored restaurants, turn the simple into the divine using culinary techniques dating back to the Etruscans. The next time you explore the alluring beauty of Tuscany, remember to sample the following culinary treasures for an exclusive look at the heart of the famous Italian region.
While many don’t equate bread as a gastronomic status symbol, Tuscany’s bread is famous for its flavor and its continued production based on a historic recipe dating back to the 12th century. Salt became an expensive luxury in the 1100s, causing Florentines to save their salt for preserving meat. The resulting flavor of the bread is bland but supports the explosive, layered tastes of other ingredients when used in broader recipes. The traditional bread has a soft interior and crunchy crust with a slight scent of toasted hazelnuts.
The delicious Pecorino cheese is one of Tuscany’s most cherished products. The delicate fragrance emanates from a soft or semi-firm consistency dependent upon the length of aging. Pecorino is made exclusively from ewe’s milk. A more intense aroma of the cheese indicates a more robust flavor. Sheepherding is prevalent across Tuscany but not all Pecorino cheese is created equal. To have the Protected Designation of Origin mark, the cheese must be produced, matured, packaged, and distributed following the regulations that ensure quality and consistency.
The traditional Tuscan salad reflects the regional principle of not wasting any ingredient. Instead of getting rid of stale bread, Tuscans invented dishes focused on utilizing the texture of the bread while supporting the flavors of the other added ingredients. Panzanella is a rustic salad with a fresh and light taste using tomatoes, onions, cucumber, basil, olive oil, vinegar, and cubed stale bread. The dish's origins are unclear, but the Panzanella was mentioned in Bocaccio's famous work, The Decameron, in the 14th century. The dish is most often eaten in summer to combat the heat.
Florentine steak has become legendary in the culinary canon and is often referred to as the “Queen of Tuscan cuisine.” The steak is considered a T-bone cut and grilled to a rare degree topped with a sprinkle of rock salt. The name dates back to the 16th century when English ambassadors visited Florence during the Feast of Saint Lorenzo. Locals would serve veal along the streets to celebrate, resulting in the English visitors calling for more “beef steak.” When Italian friends imitated the same words, it sounded like “bistecca.”
Pappardelle is a ribbon-shaped pasta made with eggs and topped with a hearty tomato sauce often made with boar’s meat. The tradition of pappardelle in Tuscany began in the 14th century as fine strips of dough. The name pappardelle refers to the Tuscan word “pappare” meaning to consume a food with joy or intense pleasure. The hearty flavor of the pasta and the boar ragù makes pappardelle more of a winter dish when the rich, heavy tastes provide a cozy sentiment.
Tuscany is one of Italy’s most famous regions and the food provides an essential Italian experience that bursts with flavor. Whether looking for natural beauty or typical culture, you can find inspiration on how to explore your next trip with Zicasso’s Italy Travel Guide or enjoy the rich cuisine of Tuscany with the Best Cities for Tuscan Cuisine. Ready to enjoy an Italian food tour? You can speak with an Italy travel specialist by filling out a Trip Request or by calling our team at 1-888-265-9707.