Tuscany is a Region which is rich of history and with a very beautiful nature; it extends from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the Apuan Alps, with more than 3,600,000 inhabitants distributed in 10 provinces: Florence (Capital of the Region), Arezzo, Siena, Grosseto, Massa Carrara, Livorno, Lucca, Pisa, Pistoia and Prato.

The history of Tuscan cuisine has ancient origins, dating back to the Etruscan people and winding through the centuries to the present day. Its most important period was definitely the Renaissance, where chefs working at the noble courts were expected to prepare very elaborate dishes, which have subsequently influenced many other European countries’ cuisine, especially France.

However, Tuscan people still loved to create far less elaborate dishes. Ancient Tuscany has been inhabited by primeval colonies at first, then by Etruscans and, later on, by Romans, both great lovers of wine and good food. Their food was simple but, in some way, already quite various for that time.

Legumes (chickpeas, lentils, beans), spelt, barley and millet (used in soups), fruits, vegetables, wine and olive oil were indeed already cultivated, and sheep, goats, pigs and cattle were already raised both for their milk and their meat. Even the game (especially wild boars, deers and cranes) was often eaten by Etruscans, cooked on braziers.

During the colonization of the Roman Empire, the Tuscan cuisine, of Etruscan origin, did not undergo major changes, remaining substantially frugal. With the decline of the Empire, the arrival in Italy of the barbarian tribes and the consequent depopulation of the cities in favor of the countryside with the advent of Feudalism, good cuisine was just reserved to the richest and noble families, while the peasants and the workers had to survive, feeding themselves with vegetable soups and poor food.

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