Cooking Tuscan is all about simplicity, freshness and, ultimately, generosity. It is about working very conscientiously in the kitchen, inspired by the necessity of caring for the ones you love. Cooking is pursuing a bond with people around the kitchen table, and food is the medium by which this is achieved. “The cook” in this equation is just a catalyst — sometimes in the form of a mother or grandmother, and sometimes in the form of a restaurant chef or a farmer.
The Tuscan kitchen reflects this sentiment abundantly. Nothing is more important than the table; it should be the right size and should feel warm and familiar, something that facilitates the celebration of a meal together.
There are not many appliances around: a very small microwave oven that is used only to reheat leftovers or melt chocolate, a powerful blender for shakes and juices, an immersion blender and a mixer hidden in the cabinets. In our kitchen there is a stand mixer on the counter. We use it about twice a year to make dough for our tarts, but it looks cool, so we keep it out … to get dusty. The bread in our house is mixed by hand, every other day. We wish we had a professional slicer, but we live in Brooklyn and counter-space real estate is no joke!
The items in our pantry and refrigerator totally reflect the Tuscan mentality. It is all about the essentials: In our cabinets there are a few staples like pasta, beans, canned tomatoes, coffee and cookies, and in a small closet there are bread tools, many kinds of flour, nuts, honeys and jams. The refrigerator has a life of its own, and turnover of food items is usually very fast, with the exception of butter, which we don’t use much. And while we shop in bulk for cleaning products and household stuff, we shop for our food items multiple times a week, in small quantities, to make sure we always eat fresh and less food gets wasted.
There are always a couple of bottles of wine in the house (no cellar, because it’s Brooklyn!) and a few craft beers. Our homebrewed limoncello is in the freezer, and the liquor cabinet holds Campari bitters, Caipirinha happiness and Brooklyn-distilled rum (yes, it might be #hipsterish, but it’s so damn good!).
Tune in to Extra Virgin tonight at 8pm ET to watch how Debi and Gabriele get a taste of Tuscany in the United States.