During the whole Feudalism, considering the society’s cultural involution and the very limited trade markets, some first forms of regional cooking began to grow, based on the meats and the raw materials obtained through hunting and farming in areas neighboring to the feuds.

During the Dark Ages (1200-1300 AD), Tuscany was battered by the ongoing struggles between the Guelphs (pro emperor) and the Ghibellines (pro-Pope), therefore it did not pay much attention to its cooking tradition, which still remained simple and frugal: soups, cereals, chestnut cakes, bread with honey, spices, raisin.

In the following period (1400-1500 AD) the art of Tuscan cuisine began to progress quickly, using both a wide variety of local foods and new ones coming from the Americas. The groceries shops were starting to sell excellent meats, such as beef of Chianina breed, lamb, pork, venison, turkey; even vegetables, cereals, river fish from the Arno, sea fish, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, chocolate could be found.

At the noble courts, sumptuous banquets, more and more lavish, were frequently set up: many courses and elaborate dishes enriched with various sauces (with pine nuts, truffles, green pepper) were offered and an increasing importance was given to the presentation of the tables, set up with sumptuous tablecloths, flowers, glasses, plates decorated made of majolica, pewter, silver or gold, personal cutlery and neatly folded napkins.

In this period an important cookbook called “The Book of Cocina”, written by a Tuscan chef and containing 57 recipes (including also that one of tortelli) was published: this was a sign of the increasing importance of the culture of good food of that time.

SOURCE: Pietro Melli, www.peterhouses.com
CREDITS PHOTO: Toscana Promozione, www.turismo.intoscana.it