Bottega Toscana | The gastronomy of Tuscany, region of Italy
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The gastronomy of Tuscany, region of Italy

  • prosciutto, salame and fruit
  • pecorino cheese
  • cantuccini and vinsanto

07 Sep The gastronomy of Tuscany, region of Italy

Tuscany has very ancient roots: an ideal trip – like the one I propose you – there means taking a sort of walk in time that would be over 2.000 years of history long. The region was inhabited by the mysterious people of Etruscans, it was largely part of the great Roman civilization, it saw Renaissance rise and it gave birth to some of the most famous artists, scholars and scientists of the past: that is why today it has a cultural heritage that is unique in the world.
The reasons to visit this land are one thousand then; among these, no doubt, the rich and various culinary offer: both typical products and culinary school. Yes: the culinary paths allow the visitor to know different smells and tastes, passing from province to province. If you are patient enough to follow me, I am going to take you through an extraordinary walk, that will surprise you just passing from town to town.
Let’s start from the north, from the province of Massa Carrara, where pasta and bread are dominating (especially testaroli and panigacci), maybe with a very good Vermentino di Luni wine. A few kilometres more and we are in the province of Lucca, whose coast, Versilia, has fish as its main product: from cacciucco alla viareggina, to pasta alla trabaccolara (sea food sauce, cuttlefish and squids). The inland instead is particularly characterized by spelt soups and by the classic “tordelli” filled with meat and nipitella (aromatic herb also known as mint).
Passing to Pisa, how could I not mention the bread soup (soaked with thick bean broth)? To be distinguished from the ribollita fiorentina that has black cabbage as the main ingredient. More dishes from this tradition? Cecìna (chickpea savory pie, whose origin goes back to the times of the Maritime Republic) and bordatino, old soup or, it’s better to say, sort of not too thick polenta with beans and (again) black cabbage. In Livorno we go back to the fish dishes with cacciucco, an undisputed leader of the local cooking, and wines, with the sumptuous Bolgheri land and Val di Cornia. Going ahead toward south along the via Aurelia, we get into the province of Grosseto: in Maremma, with a production of cheese (pecorino and bufalino) that makes it one of the best areas in Italy for this speciality, with precious wines, from Morellino di Scansano to Monteregio di Massa Marittima.
In the inner Tuscany, in Prato, a special mention is deserved by the typical mortadella or the cantuccini: the almond biscuits (confectionery boast of all the region), inevitable mates of Vinsanto. Also, in the near Pistoia province, some specialties stand out like the mountain raw milk Pecorino, the Sorana beans, the Appennines chestnuts. Remaining far from the coast, but going toward south, another stop is the area of Arezzo, with – among others – the zolfini beans or the special cold cuts like tarese and the “poor but very good” sambudello. Near there, the province of Siena: with, obviously, Chianti as its master, without forgetting the pici, a precious type of pasta, handmade and similar to spaghetti, though larger. Finally the capital city, Florence. Here we find soups (ribollita), wines (Chianti, again) and lots and lots of meat: trippa, lampredotto, in addition to “her majesty” fiorentina steak.
Can we find a common point among all these varieties? Sure. Bread, Tuscan type, which is characterized by the absence of salt (whose origin seems to go back to the 12th century when, at the peak of the rivalry between Pisa and Florence, the Pisans blocked the commerce of the precious sodium chloride). The bread is never dumped and it is basic in many Tuscan recipes: from panzanella to panata, from ribollita to acquacotta, from tomato soup to fettunta, up to the vegetable soup, to farinata or black cabbage soup.
Gluttons? I had no doubt… This was my intention!

托斯卡尼是一個歷史悠久的地區,亦是我強烈推介的旅遊景點。遊客可了解當地2000年歷史文化。神秘的伊特魯里亞人曾於該區定居。對於偉大的羅馬文明時期來說,托斯卡尼可謂貢獻良多; 這地方不但見證了文藝復興時代的興起,而且還孕育了一些最著名的古代藝術家、學者及科學家。故此,托斯卡尼有着獨特的文化遺產。
托斯卡尼還有很多吸引遊客之處; 其中之一當然是各式美食,包括各種地道佳餚及當地烹飪學校所教授的菜式。烹飪學校能讓旅客了解馳名意大利各省的菜式口味。若你細閱我所寫的文章,意大利穿州過省的非凡之旅定能令你驚喜。

我們先介紹托斯卡尼北部 – 馬薩‧卡拉拉省。這地方主要以意大利麵及麵包 (尤其是testaroli扁麵及panigacci麵餅) 聞名,再配以Vermentino di Luni白酒,簡直是絕配。從馬薩‧卡拉拉省再南下幾公里,便到達路加省; 該省的韋西利亞海岸的招牌菜有cacciucco alla viareggina等魚類、及alla trabaccolara魚肉意粉 (以海鮮醬、墨魚及魷魚烹調)。至於內陸地區的特色佳餚則有spelt小麥湯、及由肉類與nipitella香料 (亦稱為薄荷) 製成的經典tordelli意大利雲吞。

接着便要介紹比薩市; 當地的著名美食非麵包湯 (把麵包放進由肉及疏菜等煮成的淡湯) 莫屬。這款湯與佛羅倫斯式ribollita麵包雜菜湯 (主要以黑椰菜製成) 不同。比薩市的其他傳統菜式還有Cecìna雞豆薄荷批 (源於海上共和國) 及懷舊的bordatino雜菜湯 – 一種不太濃的玉米湯,內有豆類及黑椰菜 (這食材再次出現)。至於利佛諾市的名菜當然有最受意大利人歡迎的cacciucco燉魚肉、及於尊貴Bolgheri農莊與Val di Cornia產區釀製的美酒。沿羅馬古道南下,我們便來到格羅塞托省。省內有一個名為瑪利瑪的地區; 該區的特產是芝士 (羊奶芝士及水牛奶芝士) 。這些特產芝士使瑪利瑪區成為意大利最著名的地方之一。另外,該區亦盛產多款名貴紅酒,包括斯坎薩諾產區的Morellino紅酒及馬薩‧馬利迪馬產區的Monteregio紅酒。

在托斯卡尼區的內陸城市普拉托,特色美食有地道mortadella意大利肉腸及cantuccini杏仁餅 (令托斯卡尼區引以為傲的甜點); 而Vinsanto白酒亦不得不試。在鄰近的皮斯托亞省,特產有山區的原牛奶、Pecorino羊奶芝士、Sorana豆、及亞平寧山脈的栗子等。繼續從內陸南下,便到達阿雷佐區。該區的著名食品有zolfini豆、特色泠切tarese豬肉片、及賣相不美但卻美味的冷切sambudello肉腸片。而在附近的西恩納省,有Chianti頂級紅酒及名貴的手打pici意大利麵 (與意粉相似,但體積較大)。最後來到首府佛羅倫斯,當地美酒佳餚有ribollita麵包雜菜湯、Chianti紅酒 (再次出現)、及各式肉類,包括trippa雜菜炒肉、lampredotto牛肚、及佛羅倫斯式「女王牛排」等。

上述各種美食均有一個共通點,就是要配以托斯卡尼式麵包。這款麵包的特色是沒有鹽份; 箇中原因要追溯至12世紀。當時,比薩市與佛羅倫斯市的對抗正處於最激烈階段。在比薩市人民禁止買賣名貴食鹽後,麵包的製作過程便沒有加入食鹽。很多托斯卡尼區的名菜,包括panzanella意大利麵包沙律、panata麵包湯、ribollita及acquacotta蔬菜麵包湯、蕃茄湯及fettunta蒜蓉包、雜菜湯、farinata烤餅、及黑椰菜湯等,皆以無鹽麵包為基本材料。

看到上述各種美酒佳餚,各位讀者定必垂涎欲滴。而這亦是我寫這篇文章的目的所在。