We've been here in Florence for a few days, wandering the bumpity-bump streets jet-lagged with a two-year-old who has finally had her first slurps of gelato and refers to fresh porcini as "meat" that she wants to "chunk." For the uninitiated, to chunk it is to take a bite out of something; new culinary vocabulary we might all want to add to our culinary lexicon. Even a two-year old knows Italy makes you dive deep into your mind for ways to describe eating.
Tomorrow I'll stroll the city with an expert, ex-pat Judy Witts Francini, who leads tours and culinary classes here in Tuscany. But for now, it's just been me and the family, following our noses.
Here are some highlights. Of course, most of why Italy tastes so good is the ingredients available right here, right now. Don't worry, I'll be returning with some re-imagined recipes that you and I can make any old time back home.
Buying apricots on the vine from an impromptu farm stand in the Piazza Santo Spirito. A kilo and a quarter was 3 euro, about $4.25. We'll be eating them for days and turning the mushed ones into a dessert for the friends we visit this weekend.
It's true that in Italy you must eat gelato every day. This is last night's catch: dark chocolate and pistachio from La Carraia Gelateria near the Ponte alla Carraia.
The taglierini and fresh porcini that my daughter devoured at lunch today. Did I "have the heart" to break it to her that the mushroom in fact wasn't "meat?" Oh yes. At two, the beauty is, you can say this delicious gift is a fresh porcini and have them instantly hooked for life, even if she still says "I want to chunk that piece of meat" while pointing to a mushroom.
Maxwell and I split the difference on our first lunch courses today and made something outrageous. My bruschetta with cavolo nero (tuscan kale, also seen in US markets as black kale or dinosaur kale) at left, with his little pile of burrata cheese (a creamy mozzarella) and prosciutto at right. In the middle is our new burrata, prosciutto and cavolo nero bruschetta and you'd better believe we'll be trying this at home.
More next week, after I've toured Florence with a real pro.
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