Tuscany and its Christmas dinner traditions

Straight from the best Tuscan cuisine traditions to the table. What’s in store for Tuscany at the Christmas dinner table? Well there’s certainly going to be a mouth-watering display of antipasti Toscani: the traditional mixed cold cuts, Pecorino cheese and my personal all-time favourite the crostini bread with chick liver pâté.

Pasta cannot be missing from the Christmas table so there will be ravioli. Depending on which region of Tuscany you’re staying in, the ravioli stuffing varies from ricotta cheese and spinach to meat or fish. Likewise the sauce accompanying it will conform from the classical meat sauce to a simple melted butter with sage leaves. The more rural areas will also be dressing their pasta up with wild boar or hare sauce.

Hence the main course, shouldn’t it yet have been enough. A delicious roasted Florentine-style pork sirloin, arista, with aromatic fennel and apples will be a big favourite, while in the Casentino region it will be the stuffed neck of a chicken, previously used for the Eve’s broth. Probably down on the coast around Livorno they will prepare a tasty cacciucco, fish stew, but in other areas it will mainly be a roast chicken, guinea-fowl, pigeons or even thrush. Vegetables in these occasions are more an optional.

The choice of wine is almost embarrassing with all the excellent wines Tuscany has to offer. Of the over 70 DOCG wines in Italy, 11 are produced in Tuscany: Super Tuscans, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Brunello di Montalcino, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Rosso della Val di Cornia, Morellino di Scansano, Montecucco, Chianti Classico, Chianti, Elba Aleatico passito, Carmignano and Suvereto.

To conclude, the dessert. The meal ends with the traditional Sienese panforte or panpepato, a selection of traditional Christmas biscuits, like the rhomboidal ricciarelli and the cavallucci, plates full of sticky nougat and bowls overflowing with dried fruit, nuts of all shapes and forms and dates. Before ending with your classical caffè espresso, you just have to have some cantuccini biscuits dipped into a glass of home-made vinsanto.

No one keeps up age-old traditions, especially food ones, like the Italians.

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