The region of Tuscany
According to Terre di Siena, a booklet produced by the local tourism authority, the roots of the local cuisine can be traced to Roman and Etruscan times.
But it is almost impossible to remove Renaissance Cuisine from the flavors and colors that have survived to the present day.
For example, the famous panforte and other 'dolci senese' only exist due to spices brought back by merchants from the east, while it was residents of Siena who stocked the galleys of Frederick II with lean pork smoked and preserved in pepper and garlic.
The Senesi cooks were also chosen by Caterina de Medici to accompany her to Paris on her way to marry King Henry of Orleans.
The famous wine growing zone of Chianti is sometimes difficult to pin down. For example, the annual production of the comune of Montespertoli in the province of Florence used to be designated a third 'Chianti Colli Fiorentini' and two thirds 'Chianti'.
The Tuscan version of 'reboiled' vegetables and bread is a real find and, for us, is everything Italian food stands for. This is classic comfort food and it's hard to think of any dish that's more intimately associated with Florence than 'ribollita'. a cabbage and bean soup that gains body and substance from a healthy infusion of day-old Tuscan bread.
Tasting olive oil can be a real art or a thoroughly scientific process. In fact, both methods are used to analyse olive oil, detect impurities and separate your extra virgin olive oil from plain olive oil. The difference is not to be underestimated. Rather comfortingly, the nose and palate of a trained expert is almost as infallible as a person in a white coat squeezing things into test tubes. Delicious Italy participated in an olive oil tasting exercise in the town hall of Castel del Piano near Montalcino in Tuscany. 15 olive oils were sampled and, as is the standard practice, a munch on a slice of apple and a sip of water separated each test.
The symbol of the cuisine and gastronomy of the maremma tuscan area is the wild boar or 'cinghiale'. It is almost always marinated in the fine wine from the area before being cooked on the spit. Expect to eat it with a generous selection of mushrooms, artichokes and ricotta.