Tuscan Cooking: precious basics
In Italy we say that there is no better dish than the one made by Mom at lunch on a Sunday, when she is in good and relaxed mood, and has plenty of time to cook.
The sentence means a lot more than what you just read. It means that she has already selected the best quality food in season, she has set a menu that matches our tastes and she will work hard to make her family happy, face and stomach! We will sit for hours at the table enjoying the company and the pleasure of our palate. In Italy lunch or dinner, if shared with friends or the family can’t last less than one full hour (and more!).
That said, location is important, preparing a nice table is important, serve the right wine in the right glass is important.
A good recipe is simply what you like on my opinion, and that it’s almost impossible to end up with a very bad dish (unless you burnt it or overloaded it) if you start with very high quality and fresh ingredients.
If you have no idea what’s growing at the moment in your area, Google it. A fresh tomato can not be the best in January in Italy, as well as an orange has a very bad taste in the summer.
Cabbage, leeks, Swiss chard, chicory, artichokes and fennels are winter veggies, bell peppers, tomatoes, green beans, eggplants, peas, courgette and so on are summer stuff.
It is very much time consuming, I know. but if you put some effort in it, you’ll be in a much healthier environment, you’ll fell good and you’ll help the business of family owned farms.
So…. cooking the Italian way means…
- buy fresh and on season ingredients
- avoid big supermarkets if possible, try to find a good farmer market with organic products
- don’t keep your food in the fridge very long. If you can’t finish it all, freeze it
- try to avoid butter and buy high quality extra vergin olive oil
- have always some basic ingredients handy like garlic, onions (or leeks), extra vergin olive-oil, parsley
- Put some sauce on the pasta but not too much, do never ever put pasta on the same dish with meat, fish or any other second course
Why do we use lots of garlic and parsley at home? Parsley is a very good source of vitamin C and garlic is a natural remedy to help your immune system.
For more… check my recipes!
What’s an every day meal like?
Small portions, but a variety of veggies, carbs and proteins
Usually two dishes, two courses. First, pasta with a sauce on top and a second course that might be fish and veggies, meat and veggies, eggs and veggies.
Vegetarian options always available even if Italian food does not offer such a variety as you can find in Asia.
First course mostly means pasta with a sauce (any sauce). Otherwise it can be rice, it can be ravioli or gnocchi (potato dumplings), but NEVER EVER try to put on the same plate, pasta and a piece of meat and veggies!!! It’s a sacrilege!!
On events days you might wanna start with some antipasti (which means before pasta) then you pass to a pasta dish, better if home made, and then you go for proteins: meat, fish or eggs, next to some yummy veggies.
A desert… and some fruit “to clean up your mouth”!