Tuscany, Italy ~ The Thing About Cooking for Italians

Sunset aperitivo picnic in Tuscany

The thing about these Italians is that they like things the way they like them. I’ve been here for a month now, and I am galvanized that I have never seen a people so determined that their way is the way -  the right way -  the only way! Whether it’s their gnocchi burro e salvia, their borlotti beans and tropea, their asparagus frittata, their tagliarini with artichokes (a very common topic).

I have fallen flat in my attempts to impress with food here more than any other place in all of my food travels.

 I’ve been to Italy many times. I’ve eaten in Italy (a lot) and most of my cooking education came from Italy (thank you Enrica!), and yet, here, at the Villa, with a new set of Italians, somehow, all that I have eaten and seen and learned and done is rendered nearly worthless. I am again a babe in the woods. For these Italians, there is The Way to cook risotto with garden fresh zucchini. There is The Way to make a ragu. The Way… is their way, which is to say their mother’s or grandmother’s way,  which is why your way will not be right now matter which dusty, obscure cookbook or television celebrity chef taught you and how many songs of praise you’ve received before.

I came here fresh off a solid year of experimenting with the exotic;  learning the notes and colours of the world’s great pantries and spice cabinets – the dry spices of Morocco, the smokey, cured goodness of Spain, the pungent, spicy, fish-saucey language of Thailand and Vietnam, the heat and vibrancy of the Levant (a fellow Mediterranean cuisine no?)  – and each time I’ve tried to infuse even a glimmer of this complex flavor knowledge that veritably springs forth from the corners of my culinarilly saturated mind, I am rebuffed, shrugged, dismissed.

30 Days in Tuscany ~ My Daily Video Updates

A Food Pilgrimage trip to Tuscany

Watch em’ here

You have probably already figured it out by now. You may even have a favourite.

For my entire stay here at Villa Viottelone in the lovely Tuscan countryside, I will be posting short – less than 1-minute – videos of what I get up to. Some cooking, some eating, some planting food and harvesting food… and more than a few sunset aperitivos (I’ll try not to bore you).

Here’s the link to my Food Pilgrimage Youtube Channel, or of course, just hear about my updates via Twitter or Facebook.


And let me know if you want to see something specific, cook something specific or eat something specific. Tweet using the hashtag #30DaysinTuscany

Buon apetito!


Tuscany, Italy ~ Upon Arrival… It’s…well…

Breaking bred in Tuscany ~ A Food Pilgrimage

It all slows down…

That’s the first thing that happens. Efficiency, a non-concern. The next big thing, not yet considered, where you’ve got to be,  what you’ve got to do next… none of these things is more important than what you are doing now and who you are with for this one moment.

That’s what happens when you land in Italy. And even when it’s happening at the lost and found desk at baggage claim at Florence airport, and the lady behind the thick glass is fielding complaints is scratching her forehead with the back of her pen, answering the phone for the fourth time, turning her back to you and covering the receiver to share some bit of juicy information with her colleague. You know the scene: The DMV, the bank teller, the post office.

And I just came from  America, so of course at first, I fume, and I talk louder through the glass and I tap my foot and sigh and look around impatiently.

But Italy doesn’t care.

…Not out of spite or malice. Italy is doing me a favour. Italy is doing what we all want it to do when we book package holidays based on glossy brochures. Italy is being the little zen Buddhist who –