A Traditional meal in Tuscany, Italy

Pappardelle and pecorino

We can all imagine what a typical, traditional meal in Tuscany is like, slices of various salamis and cured meats, grilled bread drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and mounded with chopped tomato, ravioli stuffed with pecorino, pappardelle with a ragù of rabbit, cheeses flavoured with various herbs and, to end, a white wine, the famous Vin Santo, into which one dunks chunky almond biscotti known as cantucci. If we’ re not eating under a pergola, we have to make do with the interior of a country house or old olive press, or maybe even a wine cantina, built on thick, stone walls, so that the countryside setting is exactly what is needed to tie our vision in harmoniously with what we are tasting.

The restaurant owner’s family treats us well, with the pater-famiglia taking the order, explaining in perfect Italian what his wife has cooked up in the kitchen.  A foreigner would be unable to understand anything, because the perfect Italian of the Italian farmer is not so perfect to the foreign ear. Whatever is supposed to sound like a ‘k’, sounds like an ‘h’, and more than a little resembles the unsalted bread of the region. 

That is why I prefer a restaurant that brings you a written menu, and not one that is recited. You search for these restaurants in the valleys and the forests, or wherever else nature is beautiful and, in order to find one, all you have to do is be on the lookout for a road sign showing a knife and fork. There are also restaurants in the medieval villages that are beautifully decorated, but then we stray from the category of the country restaurant and enter one of a higher class. The ground floor is rented out to a chef, who would probably be better off not trying to aspire to 3 stars in the Guide Michelin.

An excerpt from the book: A YEAR IN TUSCANY

Antica Bottega Toscana in Arezzo, Tuscany, Italy

Antica Bottega Toscana in Arezzo, Tuscany, Italy

Barbara Athanassiadis