Discover more from Letters from Tuscany
We are (dreaming of) renovating our home kitchen
Plus the story of a marble table that has been in my family since the 1940s
There’s an old marble table in the centre of the kitchen. It has wooden legs, a capacious drawer where I stash most of my spices, and it bears the marks of my nails, as I would mindlessly engrave small dents on the soft wood while poring over the books throughout my school years. What makes it stand out, though, is the marble slab that lies on the wooden structure. It has a peculiar yellowish hue, with grey veinings and darker orange spots. The marble comes from a local cave and has been in my family since the 1940s.
It was the gift a family friend gave to my great-great-grandfather as a thank-you for having been hosted in our farmhouse during World War II. At that time, many families were fleeing the town to seek refuge in the countryside, a safer place where a thriving vegetable garden and the nearby woods would also ensure better food provision. Each room of the house welcomed an entire family, nights were spent playing cards with neighbours and with the young deserters hidden in the barn. They gave each other support and hope.
When the war was over, that family thanked my great-great-grandfather with what they had: as the son was a shoemaker, he made leather shoes for my grandma, and the father, the owner of a local marble cave, gifted my family with a yellow marble table.
I grew up around this table, that followed me from my parents’ house to my apartment, a mere 7-metre move. Life unfurled around this marbled table: cooking classes and the first dinner I cooked for Tommaso (burnt rustici), crowded parties with friends and alone writing hours. I laid against it during Livia’s labour, and it was covered with tomato pastina when we weaned her.
This marble table is the only piece of furniture we don’t want to change, now that we’re planning to renovate our kitchen.
I’ve been dreaming to renovate the kitchen for about 5 years, but every time something got in the way: a global pandemic, a newborn child, an energetic crisis, you name it.
The furniture is more than 20 years old, an affordable kitchen that initially served its purpose perfectly: it was aimed to welcome the tourist families who rented the house for their summer holidays, so it could be basic and traditional. In the beginning, it was dark brown, then Tommaso and I painted it white. Now it has a serious identity crisis, as there are patches of brown wood peeping out from the scratched white paint. It’s small and dark, and it could be more efficiently designed. I am grateful for everything that happened in this kitchen, but it is time to renovate it, as the kitchen is the beating heart of our house.
This will be our home kitchen, as we still have a downstairs kitchen in our studio where we host cooking classes and where we shoot most of our recipes. We’re planning to build our new kitchen around the old marble table.
Even though this is just our home kitchen, this is where I cook our meals twice a day, where I bake bread, and where I tested most of the recipes of our upcoming cookbook. So it has to be efficient and spacious, with plenty of worktop space to cook and test my recipes, a large cupboard to host my pantry crammed with jams and preserves, and with a nice design so that it would also look nice in photos and videos. We are planning on having closed storage cabinets rather than shelves to stash my overflowing collection of pots and pans, baking stuff, and ingredients. Being Italian and sustainable would be a pro.
Since there are so many people here, probably some of you have more experience than us in renovating a kitchen. What do you suggest? Which adventures (or misadventures) did you experience while renovating your kitchen? Are the brands you suggest? Or design solutions that would make the most out of a not-so-big space? What about the colours and the backsplash?
Let us know in the comments, and be an active part of the big project of renovating our kitchen!
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There’s a new post on the blog! Cacciucco di ceci
The most famous cacciucco is a coastal cucina povera fish soup from Livorno, made from the smallest and least valuable fish left over on the fishing boat or unsold at fish counters. Cacciucco di ceci, however, is not a fish soup, but one defined by chickpeas and chard. If not for a salt-packed anchovy melted into the olive oil at the beginning, this would be a vegan dish. (If you do not have dietary restrictions, however, don’t skip the anchovy; it’s a powerful flavour booster.)
If you have time, soak half a pound of dried chickpeas overnight, cook them on low heat for a couple of hours until soft, and then use them for this recipe.
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