Tuscany
All of today’s foodie buzzwords—“local,” “seasonal,” “farm-to-table”—have long been the norm in Tuscany, where the rolling hills are home to farms, vineyards, olive groves, and dairies, and the forests are filled with edible fungi and wild boar. Traditional Tuscan cuisine was born of the idea of cucina povera (poor cooking), which means rustic, unfussy meals made with just a few fresh ingredients (and using olive oil over butter), designed to be shared family-style. Many dishes are based on hearty ingredients like meats and beans, the latter earning Tuscans the nickname mangiafagioli, or “bean eaters.” As with much of Italy, each Tuscan town has its signature products and dishes, from Pistola’s chestnut cake and Pienza’s pecorino to Carmignano’s figs. But general regional signatures include ribolita (a vegetable and bread soup), panzanella (a bread-based salad), grilled vegetables topped with olive oil, and bisteca Fiorentina, the famously thick Florentine T-bone steak. Pasta favorites include tagliatelle al tartufo (a truffle sauce, complemented with fresh truffles in season), and pappardelle with ragu of wild boar (cinghiale) or wild hare (lepre). Top it all off with some cantucci cookies, and wash it down with Tuscan wines from Chianti, Montalcino (Brunello), Montepulciano, or one of the many other local varietals.