Dinner on a Tuscan Farm

During my stay in Florence, I had the rare opportunity to have dinner on a Tuscan farm. Over the years, the director of my program has made friends with a farming family at the Sant’ Ambrogio Market. This warm and welcoming family invited my group to a traditional Tuscan meal at their home. After rainy travels and a crowded shuttle, we walked through a mall, around the corner and then let the cocka-doodle-dooing rooster guide our direction to the farm on the outskirts of Florence. Right away, we were greeted with arms wide open, shouts of “Ciao“, and kisses… lots of kisses. Twenty one guests, four hosts and two kisses each… eighty four kisses to kick off the night!

We sat down to a table moved under an overhang due to the rain that was stacked high with fresh apricots and peaches.

The smell coming from the open door of the kitchen was overwhelming with delicious aromas. Our gracious host read us the menu as we started eating their homemade bread.

Shortly after, we began chatting and enjoying the antipasti, shouts from the kitchen questioned if we were almost ready for the pasta. Soon after, plates of piping hot penne in tomato sauce (penne alla pomorola) started flying around the table. Basil sprigs got passed around as a condiment. Our host, Valentina, told us to never add the basil while cooking because the flavor disappears. Instead, she says to add it when serving for the delicious basil taste. And in case you were wondering… they use De Cecco pasta. After the basil, around comes the hunk of Parmigiano Reggiano and microplane grater. The light freshly-made tomato sauce filled the air as we all ate and exchanged looks of ‘this is a dream come true.’

As we tried to save our appetite for the secondi course to come, Valentina’s brother asked in Italian if we want more pastasciutta, or more pasta with sauce. Pastasciutta literally means ‘dry pasta’ as opposed to a pasta in a soup, meaning they consider a pasta with tomato sauce to be dry. {Fun fact from our visit to Academia Barilla: according to market research, Americans want chunky tomato sauce and Italians mainly prefer a smooth sauce}. With many ‘no thank yous,’ out came the secondi course, roasted chicken with herbs and olive oil. We offered to keep our pasta plates for the chicken but they insisted new plates for a new course, that was a new concept for me! The chicken was immensely flavorful and tender with such simple ingredients- a common theme of Tuscan dishes.

Last but not least, the desserts began traveling around the table. There were fresh cherries and the sweetest strawberries I’ve ever tasted, gelato, and cookies with nuts that were from the oldest tree in Italy, they explained. They were so generous to find such special foods to share with us. It was fascinating to see how much we could all interact even knowing very small amounts of each others’ language. We walked in strangers and left as old friends. The entire evening was so moving that we all left with a heavy heart and tears in our eyes for having to say good bye. I kept wondering what I did to deserve this once in a life time opportunity to meet this family so full of love. I truly feel like a better and more inspired person for sharing the evening and the Tuscan table with them. I wish you all have the opportunity to experience an evening like this.

One Response to “Dinner on a Tuscan Farm”
  1. Lyn says:

    What an amazing opportunity you are having! Enjoy all the delicious Italian food & the many other wonderful experiences this beautiful country has to offer!

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