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I love Toscana, ten years later
A serialised Tuscan cookbook over the course of one year, a collection of tested classic Tuscan recipes to add to your cooking repertoire.
Ten years ago, I published my second cookbook, I love Toscana. That book changed the path of my professional and personal life. It happened right in my first year of being self-employed: I realized a dream and worked on a cookbook that condensed my idea of Tuscan food.
Thanks to the enormous work I made over the months with Francesca Badi, my editor at Food Editore, I learnt how to turn ideas, recipes, and stories into a cohesive cookbook. I love Toscana was published in 2012 in Italian and English, and afterwards, it has been translated into Dutch, Polish, and Taiwanese.
This is the introduction I wrote for I Love Toscana.
In this book, there is all my family and my love for Tuscany and its products.
There are our family recipes, those of my grandmother with which I grew up and that welcomed me home from school every day, the recipes that mum taught me on our Sunday mornings spent in pyjamas, those of my great-grandmother, of Aunt Teresa and Aunt Silvana, of Gelsomino and of other relatives and friends who generously told me their lives through the alchemy of ingredients and secrets.
There is my family and our memories: the war experienced by my grandmother as a young girl in the countryside that I got to know only through her stories, there are the afternoons spent at the beach with my cousin Margherita and those in San Gimignano with my granddad Remigio and my aunt, the wooden trays made by my grandfather Biagio, the walks and the afternoons at home with my sister Claudia and a bowl of pastry cream.
There is my land, to which I feel to be tied and bound, in which I had the good luck to grow up, that I rediscovered over the years through my blog and the cooking classes: generous and bashful, Tuscany is not just tomato soup and Florentine steak. It is a varied mix of recipes, distinct areas and peculiar characters, herbs, respect for the seasonality of products and cult of the stale bread, as it is a mortal sin to throw something away.
There are the producers who with passion and honesty tell all this through olive oil, wine, cheese, meat, and truffles. There are landscapes, restaurants, inns, agriturismi, real people and stories that are worth knowing.
There is the Tuscany I love, and I hope that through these recipes and these stories you can fall in love a little bit, too.
I Love Toscana also gave me the chance to meet two extraordinary women that I am now proud to call friends.
Ellen Silverman, a food photographer, took the atmospheric photos for the book. The week we spent driving around Tuscany to take pictures of landscapes and producers was filled with laughter, incredible discoveries, and unbearable summer heat that we diligently ignored to plunge ourselves into a whirlwind of cheeses, cured meats, wine, beers, truffles, incredibly fragrant extra virgin olive oil, and bean soups.
Tessa Kiros, a food writer and cookbook author, wrote the book foreword. For the occasion, ee met for an afternoon tea, and believe me if I tell you that I spent the whole morning with great anxiety: you are always scared to meet one of your myths in real life. What if the mental image you’ve been creating over the years reading all her books doesn’t coincide with the real person? You’ll be happy to know that, as soon as we started talking, the anxiety dissolved and Tessa proved to be the exact sweet, strong, and inspiring person she appears in her books.
Now, to celebrate that book that will be soon out of print, Tommaso and I decided to share here for our subscribers some of the recipes belonging to I love Toscana.
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I have now a new comprehension of recipe writing, thanks to ten years of teaching cooking classes and after the intense work on our latest cookbook, when I had the chance to learn how to work on the nitty-gritty details of a recipe from a professional recipe tester, editor, and copy editor.
We picked some of the essential recipes from the 2012 book and approached them with a new awareness: we tested them again, updated the headnotes, and took new photos. This part of the process has changed, too, over the years. If I used to take all my photos, now I wear the food stylist and prop stylist hats while Tommaso is the official food photographer. We do work as a team.
So, if you are a Letters from Tuscany subscriber, once a week you’ll get a new recipe, part of a serialized Tuscan cookbook over the course of one year, a collection of tested classic Tuscan recipes to add to your cooking repertoire.
We’ll be sharing recipes according to seasonality so that every month you’ll get a four-course menu based on Tuscan classics. On Friday you will receive the first recipe, crostoni di salsiccia e stracchino.
Should you already have that book (thank you!), you can print the updated recipes and add it to the book, as if it were a new appendix.
Let us know what you think of this idea in the comments, and let’s meet in the kitchen to cook!
What I’ve been reading, listening to, watching, and cooking lately (spoiler: not much)
I thought that spending two weeks trapped at home with Covid would give me the chance to catch up on newsletters, TV series, and books. Not really. I didn’t cook much, as all my efforts were placed in rummaging through the fridge and freezer to make quick, nutritious meals (I found myself relying on my pressure cooker to steam vegetables and cook grains, something we need to discuss soon). I really wished I could have some food delivered to my door (even though my friends from the market delivered a vital box of fresh fruit and vegetables).
After having read so many good articles and reviews online, finally, The Bear is available in Italy, too. My attention was immediately drawn to the many cookbooks that are more than scene props, as they tell a lot of the personal stories, ambitions, and dreams of the characters. Should you be interested in learning more about all that cookbooks, read this article: Here’s the Complete List of Every Cookbook Featured on ‘The Bear’.
Related to that series, I also enjoyed this newsletter from Since No One Asked.
There is also another newsletter I want to share, the latest issue from Things Worth Knowing with Farrah Storr, as it really resonated with me and with what I am living right now.
It is also why I’m no longer in the business of collecting followers but instead moving those who want to be with me, here, to a place I can truly connect. I want a space where I can talk to you which is why my Instagram has been slowly winding down.
Even though I’m not always that good at creating a community, I feel I have found MY place here on Substack, with you all.