The Tuscan Kitchen

IMG_0579

The kitchen is the heart and soul of the Tuscan home. In the countryside, the kitchen is also where animals are tended, medicines are made and often, unfortunately the TV rules.

I used to be fascinated by the disorder in the kitchen- how could such amazing food be created in such chaos! Why do Italians seem so disorganized?

DSC_0004

But after many visits, I understand better how things work and know that they are more methodical than I will ever be.

Tuscan kitchens can be small, the size of a clothes closet, so storage of pots and pans must be tackled with creativity, outside on window ledges or on rooftops. But when there is room, there is always the long wooden work table- where vegetables are prepared, pasta is kneaded and dried herbs and recipes books are gathered.

DSC_0047

Nothing is ever wasted or thrown away. If the family cannot eat it, the dogs, cats or chickens will, and if they don’t, the last resort is the compost.

When the meal is ready, a colorful tablecloth, a bottle of local wine and golden- green olive oil transforms the table.

DSC_0024

I have witnessed spontaneous dinner parties when there was only a speck of cheese, a slice of ham and old bread in the pantry. The Tuscan cook is creative and able to make something wonderful out of nothing.

Most of the time, the produce and the eggs come from the backyard. Italians eat only what is in season which means cavolo nero in winter,  (this black cabbage is only grown in Tuscany but is similar to kale) asparagus in the spring and tomatoes in the summer. Olive oil and wine are made on the property or purchased from a neighbor. Bread is bought every day.  Herbs are plentiful all year but can be dried and preserved in salt.

tuscan salt! by cristina with my help

tuscan salt! by cristina with my help

When I watch my friends cook, their recipes are basic and are seasoned with salt, pepper, olive oil and maybe a fresh herb and garlic. I’m so accustomed to adding everything in my spice cabinet, overshadowing the taste of the food.

Baccala, with home made olives

Baccala, with home made olives

I eat less in Tuscany – maybe because my palate is truly satisfied and I don’t eat out of boredom or anxiety, two conditions that accompany me in North America.

I have had gelato three times this stay- always the smallest cone and my sweet tooth is perfectly satisfied.

But now that my last week has arrived, I will have one more gelato. I’m considering right now what shop to visit and what flavor to sample.

 

 

 

 

5 thoughts on “The Tuscan Kitchen

  1. Hi Marcie.
    I am intrigued by the Tuscan salt. What herbs did you blend in with the salt?
    PS. italians are practical where food is concerned. The kitchen is a workshop where cullinary masterpieces are created with few ingredients. In North America our kitchens are showrooms where minimal food is prepared and riduculous amounts of $$ is spent for impractical design and decor. Perhaps we should learn from the Italians….eat well and not stress over keeping a shiowroom kitchen! Buon Appetito!

    • we picked rosemary, thyme, oregano, laurel, sage, parsley and dried them in the sun, then later in the oven. we also dried garlic and onion. We added juniper berries and then ground everything together and used pink coarse salt. I hope to bring some back so you can try it!

  2. Love this post! Marcie, you look adorable and so happy in that first photo. Can’t wait to hear more about your adventures in Italy. Have a great last week. And bring beautiful weather back to Toronto!

  3. I arrived home tonight, Wednesday, at 9:30pm from a meeting and was hungry,
    as I had no time to eat after lunch today, so these luscious photos of food really
    attracted me, especially the colorful mixture on the stove, looking hot and bubbly!

    you are so right about the kitchens here in most homes, they look sterile compared
    with these photos. and you look so great!
    Being a single person now, I do eat out most of the time, but also get invited by
    friends who are good cooks!
    much love
    marilyn

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments Protected by WP-SpamShield for WordPress