Dining in Florence Italy on a Budget Pt. 1

Dining in Florence Italy on a Budget pt. 1

The Florentine Meal

The typical Florentine meal has many courses, and it can take a few hours to work your way through them properly. It starts with an antipasto (appetizer), the two most traditionally Tuscan being affettati misti (assorted salami) and crostini misti (rounds of toast topped variously with liver pâté, mushrooms, tomatoes, cheese, etc.).

Your primo (first course) could be a soup—try the stew-like ribollita (made with chard-like cavolo nero, cannellini beans, tomatoes, and various other veggies, poured over thick slices of day-old bread then, as the name says, “reboiled” again)—or pasta. Popular pastas in Florence include spaghetti alla carrettiera (in a spicy tomato sauce) or pasta al pomodoro (in a plain tomato sauce); pappardelle al cinghiale (wide noodles in a wild boar sauce); and crespelle Fiorentine (delicate pasta crepes layered with cheese and béchamel sauce).

Your secondo (main course) could be a pollo (chicken) dish, scallopine (veal cutlets, cooked in a variety of ways), lombatina di vitello (veal chop), involtini (veal rolled with veggies and stewed in its own juices), or the mighty bistecca fiorentina (a huge steak grilled and brushed with olive oil and pepper).

You are expected to order a contorno (side dish) to go with this main dish. They will try to foist spinaci (spinach) off on you, but beware: the Tuscans are partial to boiling spinach ’til it be dead, dead, dead. Far better are the fagioli, which just means “beans” but in Tuscany always always implies white cannellini beans; these are best served all’uccelleto, stewed with sage and tomatoes.

Finish your meal off with cantucci con vin santo, which are tiny, hard almond cookies (the original biscotti) for dipping in the sweet dessert wine vin santo; or a tiramisù, which is espresso-soaked lady fingers layered with sweetened, creamy mascarpone cheese and dusted with cocoa. 


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