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taste of tuscany

Testaroli al pesto, from Tuscany (Phaidon Press, May 2011, $39.95). Photography by Edward Park courtesy of Phaidon Press.

It has been said that Tuscany is the “birthplace” of Italian cuisine, and it is also no secret the town and surrounding areas are known the world over for its delicious foods. Throughout my travels, I’ve been lucky enough to have been served some interesting and amazing dishes…from Istanbul to Damascus, from Bangkok to Singapore. Travels in Italy have focused mainly on Milano and Rome and I have yet to be disappointed.

This week, “Tuscany” came to me in the form of a beautiful book published by Brit publishing house Phaidon Press. “Tuscany” is an ode to the Italian region, exploring the legacy of the city, its countryside and food.  The photography is interesting and explores not only the methods and ingredients, but the local landscapes. From rolling hills to cattle farms, as well shots of prepared dishes that would make you want to book a flight over to Italy and start cooking (and eating) like Tuscan natives.

Polenta Pasticciata, from Tuscany (Phaidon Press, May 2011, $39.95). Photography by Edward Park courtesy of Phaidon Press.

One nice surprise in the book is the month-by-month list of “Food Festivals.” Yes, festivals! From the “Dry Fig Festival” in September to December’s “National Exhibition of the White Truffle of San Miniato” in Pisa, Italy, it’s interesting to read and learn about all the distinct ways of preparing Italian meals and the loyalty to particular foods and cooking styles across towns and cities.

At ten chapters, each focusing on one of the ten regions of Tuscany with photos taken in actual Tuscan kitchens, there are some modern dishes to learn about in addition to the classics such as pappardelle with duck and Florentine-style steak. Delish!!

“I think food in Tuscany is much more than the sum of the ingredients on the plate. It’s a reflection of how the Tuscans live.”–Contributing and local food writer to “Tuscany”, Mario Matassa.

Salvia fritta, from Tuscany (Phaidon Press, May 2011, $39.95). Photography by Edward Park courtesy of Phaidon Press.

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