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Taste of Italy Tuscan Herb & Garlic
Taste of Italy Tuscan Herb & Garlic

Taste of Italy Tuscan Herb & Garlic


What distinguishes an Italian meal?
Although Italy was not united under one law and considered a single country until 1861, its cuisine has long since been an element uniting all of Italy’s regions together by taking pride in its respect for good, fresh, simple ingredients. When we commonly think of Italian food, we think of pasta, olive oil and lots of fresh vegetables, which does in fact make up the base of this Mediterranean diet, stemming from ancient Etruscan, Greek and Roman cultures. Other common ingredients that we often consider staples such as the tomato, potato or bell pepper were not introduced until much later but, nonetheless, have earned a special spot in the Italian pantry.

Italian cuisine is much like their language - there is a national language that every region speaks but every region has their own dialect that they speak between one another. You will see this same phenomenon in food. As you travel through Italy, you will notice how each region has specific dishes and ingredients that they are best known for, yet there are basic ingredients such as pasta, cheese and olive oil that all of Italy uses.

Of course, we cannot talk about Tuscan cuisine and forget to mention the famous steak that comes from Valdarno and Mugello called "bistecca alla fiorentina". The Tuscan steak, which comes from a special cow breed, the Chianina, is served very rare alongside roasted potatoes and beans. It can be found at most Tuscan restaurants throughout the region but some are better than others.
Tuscany is also known for its wild game such as wild boar, hares, pheasants and other birds. They are often tenderized in a stew such as cinghiale in umido (stewed wild boar), roasted such as faraona arrosto (roasted guinea-fowl) or served as a sauce over pasta, as mentioned above. Cinghiale is definitely the most foreign to travelers and often most well liked as it is rich in flavor but not too gamey tasting.

Tuscan side dishes don’t vary too much from other regions but you can be sure to always find beans and some kind of hearty green vegetable sauteed in olive oil on the menu. You will often see sauteed spinach or chicory in olive oil and garlic, which they do very well - you will never have guessed you are eating a vegetable! You will also always find side salads, roasted potatoes and when in season, artichokes prepared in various methods, grilled mixed vegetables such as eggplant and fried zucchini flowers in the summer months.