Friday, August 26, 2011

Happy 1 year of blogging! (And trip to Tuscany)

It seems I have overlooked a monumental occassion- I've been blogging for 1 year! In celebratory reflection, I read through my year of posts and took note of what has been accomplished thus far, how my "direction" with the blog has changed, and likes/dislikes (additional comments welcome). I originally started this blog with the idea of following and learning more about various diets; specifically diets prescribed for medical purposes. I spent a good deal of time following a gluten free diet, and realized there was so much to learn that I continued it for longer. Then, with the change of life events (getting married and moving out of the country) my goal seemed to morph into simple, quick, healthy meals-, all while cleaning out my pantry and saving money.

Upon my move to Italy, I've gotten back to the art of enjoying food and, really, have since rediscovered the heart of why I love food and nutrition in the first place: the built in simplicity that what's good for you is also deliciously satisfying. Recently I've desired to get back to my original plan when it occurred to me that in reality, I already have been via the Mediterranean lifestyle. What better way to truly learn and experience the Mediterranean diet than by living in southern Italy? As I've written, we eat seasonally (even it means zucchini at every meal), avoid most processed foods, and indulge in the occassional gelato or margherita pizza (or bag of oreos if my husband participates in the grocery shopping). Yes, I feel that in fact I have been abiding by my mission after all. I'm fortunate to have some time to spare at this stage in life, which I am trying to take advantage of and become a more well-rounded cooker, and eater. I must thank my husband who is such a good sport during all of my culinary adventures- the man doesn't even blink when he finds grated vegetables in his brownies, or when I tell him that the mashed potatoes are actually mashed cauliflower. He's gotten so used to my fascination with food that he now enthusiastically reminds me to take a picture of my meals before I take the first bite in restaurants. I'm sure I looked like the ultimate tourist when I took a picture of my rosemary bread roll in Tuscany.

What did we eat in Tuscany, you wonder? Well, I did some reading before our little weekend getaway- a book that would probably only be interesting to a true food-obsessed person (like myself) with significant time on their hands: A Thousand Days in Tuscany, written by a chef turned food and wine critic turned European traveler who moves to the farmhills of Tuscany to experience true Italian cuisine and culture. Granted it varies depending on region, but thanks to her, I learned that Tuscan food and tradition runs much deeper than good Chianti. I learned about chestnut and olive and truffle harvests, herbs that grow as freely as grass, and the significance of good homemade bread.  It's surprisingly not a big pasta region (traditionally), although their local pasta is most likely to be pici (big thick spaghetti-like noodles. One is more likely to find Grigliata Mista (literally "mixed grill"); a dish made up of whatever meats were fresh and available that day. And if in season, you'll find mushrooms on any menu You can also get a good bowl of Fagioli (literally "beans"), which is as simple as white cannellini beans cooked in a tomato sauce. And we saw the sweet treat panforte just about everywhere, and of course had to try it! It's a rich cake made with honey, dried fruit, and nuts (we opted for chocolate with almonds and dried apricots).

The Rosemary bread rolls

Pici pasta with shaved truffles and ricotta

Panforte Nero (chocolate)

Sampling olives used to make olive oil

Of course good wine wasn't hard to find either :)

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