The many nuances and origins of the culinary language can be seen as a sort of “cultural litmus”, as they reveal the primordial origins of our eating habits and tastes. Tuscany is especially rich when it comes to traditional sayings about food and celebrating the art of the table, since every meal and ingredient bears a specific significance.
A tavola non s’invecchia
You never grow old at the table: this saying about food couldn’t be more truthful! Italy is renowned for the sacrality of the dining table and its long Sunday lunches. A constant flow of good wine, plates and conversation keep energy levels high at these lengthy meals, discouraging boredom and increasing enjoyment for all. Tuscans take their meals very seriously indeed, especially during the holidays when families reunite around the dinner table. But beware, some believe that “I troppi cuochi guastano la cucina” (similar to the English saying “too many cooks spoil the broth”), so let everyone have their individual moment of glory around the kitchen and rest assured that your plate will be filled to the brim with goodness!
Al fico l’acqua, e alla pèsca il vino
Sayings about food often emerge from the wisdom of land-workers and therefore speak of a time and place where simplicity was key. Pairings are the very backbone of some of Tuscany’s most popular aphorisms: figs taste better with water, while peaches go well with wine, for example. “Pane, noci e fichi secchi, ne mangerei parecchi” is another lip-smackingly good combination: bread, walnuts and dried figs, a perfect Autumnal snack! Or the saying “Formaggio, pane e pere, è pasto di cavaliere” explains how three simple ingredients – cheese, bread and pears – are all you need to prepare a meal fit for a king. Try it, it’s delicious! And how could we not agree with the dictum “Olio, aceto, pepe e sale, sarebbe buono uno stivale” which translates “Olive Oil, vinegar, pepper and salt would make a boot taste good!”. Sometimes a nice batch of evoo is all it takes to give you that extra flavor!
Chi vuole un buon agliaio, lo ponga di gennaio
Agriculture and nature play an important role in the Tuscan lifestyle. Many regional sayings about food actually revolve around the cultivation process and offer useful tidbits of proverbial folk wisdom. If you want to grow garlic, for example, you have to plant the seeds in January. “Le fave nel motaccio, e il gran nel polveraccio” suggests that fava beans should be planted in muddy soil while wheat grows best in dry climates. The harvest calendar often revolves around Saint’s days, as religion also payed an important part of the farmer’s everyday practical life: “Per San Michele, la succiola nel paniere” advises to pick chestnuts around the 29th of September, the day that celebrates St. Michael the archangel, while “Per Santa Croce, pane e noce” marks the 14th of September as the right time to snack with walnuts and bread.
Ogni frutto vuol la sua stagione
It’s true, every fruit has its season, just like everything in life has its moment. Proverbs offer multiple interpretations and simple words can hold infinite wisdom. According to Tuscan sayings about food, to live a good life you have to “Mangiar molto e bever bene, e urlar quando la viene”: Eat till you’re full, drink well and holler when necessary. When it comes to friendship, Tuscans believe that once the trust has been broken, things will never be the same, like a dish never tastes the same after it’s reheated: “Né amico rinconciliato, né pietanza due volte cucinata”. Finally, love is one of Tuscany’s finest ingredients: “Più vale un pan con amore che un cappone con dolore” states that dry bread is better with love than a fat capon with fear. Here at the Dievole table we serve and cherish this simple philosophy on a daily basis. Everything we prepare and produce resounds with the words of Tuscan tradition, because this is where our innermost heart beats.