Meals generally start with an “antipasto”, literally meaning “before the meal”. In Tuscany the most common antipasto has to be crostini di fegato- pieces of Florentine bread which have been baked and dunked in soup, and then garnished with anything from chicken liver paté, capers and/or anchovies to a simple tomato, basil and garlic topping.

Cured meats are a regional speciality- usually pork and wild boar, which are butchered or hunted during the cold winter months. Prosciutto crudo comes from a pig haunch buried under salt for three weeks, then swabbed with spicy vinegar, covered with black pepper and hung to dry for a further five months. Capocollo is a neck cut cured the same way for three days, covered with pepper and fennel seed, rolled round in yellow butcher’s papere and then tied up with string so that it looks sausage-shaped. It’s ready for eating just a few months later. The most typical Tuscan salami is “finocchiona” (pork, flavoured with fennel seeds and peppercorns). Salamini di cinghiale, or small wild boar salamis include chilli pepper and little fatty pork to keep them from going hard. Try looking out for milza, a delicious pungent pâtè, made from spleen, herbs, spices and wine.


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