10 Things to eat in Italy right now – popular in the Lunigiana area
I was asked recently what my top 10 favourite foods from our region are and so I thought I’d share some of these with you. One of the great things about living in Italy is that not only are there some great restaurants around but also some great cooks as neighbours and the nonne (grandmothers) in our villages. On almost a daily basis I come across food as good as the next. There are loads to choose from and no doubt this list will change frequently but for now (and in no particular order)…
This is leavened bread dough, cut into strips, fried and salted on the surface that is traditionally eaten plain or stuffed with cheese or cold cuts (proscuitto, mortadella, salami) or Nutella
You’ll not find them anywhere else in Italy. This is a typical flat bread of the Lunigiana region of Tuscany. Basically it is a batter about the consistency of pancake batter that is cooked on a terracotta (or cast iron) testo, a special baking dish used directly on hot coals. It is cut into smallish pieces and boiled for 2 minutes and then served with pesto.
3. Bistecca alla Fiorentina
Basically it is the best T-bone steak in the world. The name refers to a particular cut of the meat and according to the rules, a Fiorentina steak should come from the Chianina cow (a breed of cow which comes from Valdichiana in Tuscany). This is generally for two people.
This is a round unleavened bread, cooked on a special terracotta plate testo that are left in the oven until they reach very high temperature.A batter of flour , water and salt is placed between one testo and the next to form a stack.The final consistency is soft or crunchy, depending on the cooking time and like sgabei is served filled with meats, cheeses or Nutella.
5. Torta d’erbi della Lunigiana
This vegetable tart is made with wild herbs and seasonal vegetables such as beets, onions, borage, leeks, pumpkins, beans, potatoes, carrots. It is encased in phyllo pastry.
These are made from chestnut flour finely sieved, water and salt. They are quite sweet and are regarded nowadays as more of a sweet, whereas many years ago they were served with savoury dishes. Like Panigacci these are cooked on larger testi (terracotta plates) and are filled with ricotta cheese, like cannoli
This sauce is traditionally made from crushed garlic, pine nuts, salt, basil, parmigiano (Parmesan cheese) and pecorino cheese (from sheep’s milk), all blended with olive oil.
8. Miele della Lunigiana DOP
Lunigiana is famous for its chestnut honey and has the DOP distinctive protective stamp (nominazione di Origine Protetta literally “Protected Designation of Origin”). It is used frequently not only as an ingredient in recipes, but also for making candles and alternative medicines. The territory is perfect for bee-keeping for the almost absolute absence of pollutants.
These are similar to ravioli but stuffed with ricotta (fresh goats’ cheese) and spinach and served with parmesan cheese, fresh sage and melted butter.
10. Agnello di Zeri
Normally accompanied with traditional Zeri potatoesi .The traditional recipe, makes use of another type of testi (special cast iron pots with lids) that are put on the grill to heat and provide a result somewhere in between baking and steaming.
For those of you who know or travel in the Lunigiana area you may have some more suggestions for this list or if you’d like to share some of your stories on these foods and where you have eaten them I’d love to hear. Just place a comment below.