Curious Appetite

Italian food culture

In defense of food in Florence

take note.

I realize that for foodies from countries like America, Tuscan food in Florence can seem confusing. Recently, I took a quick stroll through common criticisms on sites like yelp and tripadvisor and decided to respond. These misunderstandings can be avoided, and I question the information out there educating people about what real Tuscan food and Italian food culture is about. Yes, Italian food includes plates of creamy gnocchi, carb-rich lasagna, pillow-y charred pizza and silky tagliatelle pasta and rich ragu’. But it is also a culture of regional foods, simple eating with little condiment. People eat out somewhat frequently in Italy, whether for a panino on the go or a quick plate of sliced roast beef and vegetables on lunch break. These meals are consumed casually at simple local cafes, hole in the walls or neighborhood trattorias. The grey area is that everyday Italians rarely go out for nicer, gourmet meals at atmospheric restaurants raved about in culture and leisure publications/blogs which travelers tend to chase after, giving a false impression of what the local eating culture is truly like. Continue Reading

Tuscan Recipe- Panzanella Bread Salad

Bread salad? Yes.

I wonder if people coming to Florence or other destinations in Tuscany realize what Tuscan cuisine is and what it isn’t.

Tuscan cuisine is a complex yet simple beast. Frankly put, it is not just pizza and pasta. There are flatbread pizzas (schiacciata) and ancient recipes for some pastas (maccheroni alla cacciagione). But pizza is native to Naples and fresh pasta is home in the Emilia-Romagna.

If I had to sum up Tuscan cuisine, it would be the art of not wasting anything- down to the last stale bread crumb and 4th cow’s stomach, drizzled with local fresh olive oil. Continue Reading

Trattoria Mario in San Lorenzo, Florence (Italy)

As much as I enjoy a fancy cave aged, herb crusted goats milk and a oily, aromatic glass of Sauvignon Blanc from the Dolomites, at the end of the day I simply adore a good rustic Tuscan greasy spoon hole-in-the-wall with house wine that could pass just as easily as oily gasoline…

This is what I ACTUALLY adore most about Florence. It’s the family run, health department renegades, the hole-in-the-wall where you sit elbow to elbow with strangers at your table, the Tuscan peasant food oasis that has absolutely ZERO pretension…Italian food is this to me.

Fancy name brand chef restaurant serving shot glasses of heirloom tomato coulis and vanilla pod risotto with some equally pretentious mystery “foam” that lacks not only soul but the ability to make you break a sweat when you’ve eaten a little too well. Put it away. I don’t want it. Unless a gorgeous Mediterranean man is insisting on taking me there (happens ALL the time! ugh- lay off, Fabios!), I will snub it just like it snubs me with its out of reach menu prices. Continue Reading

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