Sunday lunch in Italy is traditionally a day to spend with the family, lingering around the dining table for hours and enjoying an abundant meal comprised of traditional, home-cooked dishes made from local produce, and enjoyed with a glass or two of locally produced wine.
In the small Tuscan town of Certaldo, this Sunday lunch tradition was taken to all new lengths yesterday, when a group of local hunters presented a large gathering of friends and family with plate after plate of food prepared by a bunch of local women from food caught or cultivated by the local men.
Large tables were set up in the local community centre. Each person was given an ‘antipasto’ starter platter of prosciutto ham, salami and ‘crostini’ topped with Tuscany’s favourite ? chicken liver pâté ? as well as a spread made from finely chopped and perfectly cooked vegetables and herbs.
Next, the local hunters, sporting orange vests with their logo emblazoned on the back, served penne pasta with a creamy tomato sauce. Next, was pappardelle ribbon pasta with wild boar ragout generously piled on the plate.
With each dish becoming more and more delicious, it was easy to keep up the appetite as we were served the main main course of Wild Boar Stew with black olives. Known as ‘Cinghiale in umido’, this dish takes hours to slowly cook the boar to the point that it is superbly tender.
Left-over sauce can be either utilised the next day as a pasta sauce or, if nobody is looking, mopped up from your plate with a piece of Tuscan bread (purposely made without salt for just this reason).
Plates were collected and exchanged for clean ones, as we sat patiently awaiting dessert, glad for a bit of reprise to get our dessert-appetite going.
We were thus surprised to find the orange vests pass by with yet another main dish! This time it was delicious grilled ribs and cinghiale sausages, accompanied by a simple salad of lettuce leaves coated in extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of salt.
Dessert, again exceeding expectations, was a tasting platter of delicious apple cake (a traditional Tuscan sweet), tiramisu, homemade biscotti and other delicious sweets.
As the desserts were being brought around the tables, bottles of sweet Prosecco were given around. The air became filled with the pops of the corks, which flew up into the air riding on the wave of cheers being given to the hosts of the lunch.
Next, one of the local farmers walked the room handing out oranges straight from the crate. It is typical in Tuscany to consume fresh fruit as a palate-cleanser. In the past this was even done in between dishes, but nowadays it is more common to have fresh fruit served after dessert.
By the time the small cups of bitter black espresso coffee were being passed around ? more than five hours and six dishes later – conversations were turning to afternoon strolls and early-evening naps.
After our own evening walk around the cobbled streets of the town, dinner that evening consisted of a piece of cheese and a glass of Chianti Classico in a traditional wine bar, the conversation concerning the local gossip gathered around the lunch table, and of course, the food. Always the food.
You can learn to cook typical Italian dishes in a fun, hands-on cooking class in Florence where you will learn how to make a complete Italian meal, before indulging in a meal of the dishes made in the class.
Experience a typical Tuscan meal in situ, amongst the rolling Tuscan hills as part of our Best of Tuscany small-group day tour to explore three Tuscan hilltop towns and have a typical lunch and wine tasting at a Tuscan villa.
You can also explore Tuscany’s wine country with us on our Tuscany walking tour including lunch, our Taste of Tuscany wine tour, Tuscany Bike Tour, and other Tuscan activitities to tour through Tuscany’s countryside.
Artviva is a proud supporter and member of Slow Food, and specialises in small-group, quality (and fun) tours in Florence/Tuscany, Rome, Cinque Terre, Venice and beyond. Visit www.italy.artviva.com for more information, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.