A 19th century lunch for Good Friday

One of my favourite things about Artusi’s cookbook, the 1891 bible of Italian cooking, is his suggested menu at the back for seasonal and traditional dishes, listing recipe suggestions by the month (see some of them here), with additional menus for special holidays. It’s not only is a quick way to glance over some of the nearly 800 recipes in his book, but it is also an incredibly interesting indication of what a meal consisted of in... Read More

Italian Table Talk: Carnival & Berlingozzo cake

For a celebration known as Fat Tuesday, you might think that the traditional recipes would be a chance for gluttons to gleefully stuff their faces with, well, fatty things. Mid-week, no less. Well it’s sort of true. Martedì Grasso (also known as Mardi Gras in French), or Fat Tuesday, which just happens to be tomorrow, February 12, is probably the most well known day of Carnevale, Carnival. It represents the end of that lavish, drunken, festive... Read More

Italian Table Talk: Lardo di Colonnata

If you’ve ever sat down to an antipasto of Tuscan salumi (the Italian word for cured meats in general; not to be confused please with salami!), you’ll know that Tuscans are serious about their cured meats. It’s the topic of this month’s Italian Table Talk, as January is popularly the month for butchering pigs and making salumi in the natural refrigeration that winter provides (if you’re interested in the how-to side of... Read More

Italian Table Talk: Holiday traditions & Cavallucci

I’m not the first one to say this but it must be pointed out that Tuscan cookies are not pretty. In fact, you could say the same for traditional Tuscan desserts in general. Preferring salty to sweet, Tuscans don’t have a huge repertoire when it comes to desserts, but the sweets that exist usually play an important part during holidays, from the biscotti for All Saints Day, to this traditional bread made at Easter. Another thing you’ll... Read More

Italian Table Talk: Olives & Hunter’s stew

After living in Tuscany for so many years, November has come to mean many things to me: rainy days, changing colours in the landscape, vino novello (‘new’ wine, that young, grape juice-like wine produced from September’s harvest), white truffles, a cappuccino in the morning to warm up and above all, the olive harvest and that first press of bright green olive oil. There is nothing like this thick, grass-coloured oil, which I have... Read More

Italian Table Talk: Chestnut biscotti for Ognissanti

Food is such an integral part of culture – it’s something that I’ve been thinking about lately especially after contemplating whether or not food writing was important. In the article, Michael Ruhlman (author and charcuterie/salumi-maker extraordinaire), poses the question with some pretty convincing points and quotes, such as this one by George Orwell, no less, written about 75 years ago: “I think it could plausibly be argued... Read More

Italian Table Talk: Risotto in Cantina

September in Italy is largely regarded as the season for la vendemmia, the wine harvest, when most of the peninsula is busy picking the grapes that have been carefully tended to over the year. Some regions have already done it by August – places like Puglia’s far south where the intense heat ripens the local grapes fast, or up north in Lombardy where the delicate sparkling Franciacorta wines require grapes with higher acidity. Naturally, for... Read More

Italian Table Talk: Sweet Tomato Jam

The tradition of preserving food, whether fruit, vegetables, meat or cheese is so fundamental to the cuisine of each Italian region and is one that still lies very close to the hearts of many, who cannot do without their mother’s plum jam, their nonna’s preserved mushrooms in oil or their neighbour’s own prosciutto. Preserves, the topic of this month’s Italian Table Talk, where four food bloggers discuss an aspect or tradition of Italian cuisine,... Read More

Italian Table Talk: Street food of the Tuscan Coast

Street food is one of the best ways to get to the nitty gritty of not only a city’s cuisine, but even its character, its history and its habits. It’s also a might fine way to eat your way through a city without burning a hole in your wallet and it happens to be the theme of this month’s Italian Table Talk, a discussion amongst four food bloggers of Italian cuisine’s true facets. Discover Venice’s bacari for some cicchetti with... Read More

Italian Table Talk: The Longevity of Tuscan bread

If there were one defining ingredient in a Tuscan kitchen, one absolutely essential part of every single meal, it would have to be bread; not just any bread, but pane toscano, Tuscan bread. It’s a large, rustic, usually oval-shaped loaf baked in a woodfired oven with a hard and crunchy outer shell and an inside of bland (yes, bland), springy white bread. It has the physical characteristic of only staying soft for one day, but once stale it lasts... Read More