A Dowry Skill: Cheese
So important was cheesemaking in the past that it was a dowry skill. Still respected, the
sheep's-milk pecorino crafted in Pienza ranks among Italy's greatest pecorini: taste it
young and mild with fava beans, fresh pear or chestnuts and honey; or try it mature and
tangy, spiked with toscanello (black peppercorns) or as pecorino di tartufo (infused with
black-truffle shavings). Pecorino massaged with olive oil during the ageing process turns
red and is called rossellino.
GO SLOW TUSCANY
Born out of a desire to protect the world from McDonaldisation, Slow Food
we eat, its origins and how it tastes. Created by Italian wine writer, Carlo Petrini, the foundation works
towns - Anghiari, Barga, Castelnuovo Berardenga, Civitella in Val di Chiana, Greve in Chianti, Massa
Marittima, Pratovecchio, San Miniato, San Vincenzo and Suvereto in Tuscany - have a visible and
distinct culture; rely on local resources rather than mass-produced food and culture; work to reduce
pollution; and increasingly rely on sustainable development, such as organic farming and public trans-
Industrialisation, globalisation and environmental dangers threaten traditional, indigenous edibles.
Enter Slow Food's Ark of Taste , a project born and headquartered in Florence that aims to protect and
promote endangered food products including, in Tuscany: Chianina beef, lardo di colonnata , Certaldo
onions, Casola chestnut bread, Cetica red potatoes, Garfagnana potato bread and farro (spelt), Car-
mignano dried figs, cinta senese (the indigenous Tuscan pig), Londa Regina peaches, Pistoian Moun-
tain pecorino cheese, Orbetello bottarga (salted mullet roe) and Zeri lamb. Among the many cured
meats that make the list: San Miniato mallegato, Prato mortadella (smooth-textured pork sausage
made dull-pink with drops of alkermes liqueur and speckled white with cubes of fat), Sienese buristo
(a type of pork salami made in the province of Siena), Valdarno tarese (a 50cm-to-80cm-long pancetta
spiced with red garlic, orange peel and covered in pepper), Florentine bardiccio (fresh fennel-fla-
voured sausage encased in a natural skin of pig intestine and eaten immediately) and biroldo (spiced
blood sausage made in Garfagnana from pig's head and blood).
Sampling any of these Tuscan items guarantees an authentic tasting experience.
Festive Frolics: Sweets, Chocolate & Ice
Be it the honey, almond and sugar-cane sweets served at the start of 14th-century banquets
in Florence, or the sugar sculptures made to impress at the flamboyant 16th- and 17th-cen-
tury feasts of the power-greedy Medici, dolci (sweets) have always been reserved for fest-
ive occasions. In more humble circles street vendors sold bomboloni (doughnuts) and
pandiramerino (rosemary-bread buns), while carnival in Florence was marked by stiac-