A Taste of Modena: Discovering Authentic Emilia-Romagna Cuisine
November 18, 2023
Explore Modena's culinary treasures in our guide. Discover Emilia Romagna's authentic flavors, from wines to artisanal cheeses. A must-read for foodies!
By: Nicole Dickerson / Last updated: December 23, 2023
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Guide to Tuscan Gastronomy and Cuisine: Read more
Maremma extends along the coast from south of Livorno to Rome and inland to the Apennines. Historically a poor area, Maremma is known for its rural farmlands. Dishes like aquacotta reflect such a history. Aquacotta, meaning cooked water, is another representation of cucina povera. This simple vegetable soup enriched with stale bread was a means for locals to make a tasty meal with what they had on hand. Farmers needing a heartier meal enhanced the soup with a poached egg.
Gnudi or malfatti, typical dishes of Maremma, are also served throughout Tuscany. Cooks often serve richly flavored spinach and ricotta dumplings in tomato sauce, butter, and sage. They call them gnudi, meaning naked because they resemble ravioli without the pasta exterior. While malfatti means poorly made for their irregular, lumpy shape.
Additionally, tortelli maremmani is a popular Tuscan dish from the region. These tortelli are like ravioli but larger in shape and with a higher pasta-to-dough ratio, typically filled with ricotta, wild greens, spinach, and nutmeg.
As might be expected from rural Maremma, cinghiale, or wild boar, is also savored here. Cinghiale alla maremmana is a strongly flavored dish enjoyed in the region for centuries. You marinate the wild boar meat overnight and slowly cook it with onions, celery, carrots, laurel, juniper, and wine until it becomes super tender. The meat frequently tops a mound of creamy polenta.
Finally, for dessert in Maremma, seek out Sfratti di Pitigliano, a sweet treat with Jewish origins, as Pitigliano has always been a refuge for the Jewish community. You make Sfratti di Pitigliano with unleavened pastry dough, shaping it like a stick and filling it with a delicious mixture of walnuts, honey, spices, and orange.
Wine-making in Tuscany has a rich history dating back to the Romans, Christian monks in the Middle Ages, and aristocrats during the Renaissance. Tuscan wines like Vino Nobile di Montepulciano have been popular since the 16th century, with famous admirers like William III and Jonathan Swift. Tuscany is a diverse region with various wine areas, all sharing Sangiovese as the primary red grape and Trebbiano as the dominant white grape. Northern Tuscany features mountainous terrain, while Florence and Pisa are in the central and southern parts. Chianti, known for its prestigious Chianti Classico DOCG, extends from Florence to Siena, and other subregions like Chianti Rufina are picturesque. Classic Chianti wine includes Sangiovese and sometimes white grapes.
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