Welcome to CiboChat!

CiboChat is the Food and Culture blog of FUA Florence University of the Arts. This blog project reflects our aim to share the cultural and especially gastronomic experiences of our students, faculty, staff, and Florentine locals. Check out our Florentine Food Guide for how to dine like a local!

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How To Be a Vegetarian in Florence

By Madison Ross
Italy is said to be the home of the finest cured meats in the world. From stuffing your face with some delicious prosciutto and crackers, to eating pounds of spaghetti, you are almost always promised that your meat is of the best quality. Some may ask how vegetarians survive in a place where eating meat is part of everyday history and culture in Italy? Although only around 10% of Italians are vegetarians, they are said to have the largest percentage in all of Europe. Therefore, you will find many hidden treasures inside the beautiful country of Italy. On almost every menu, you will find delicious “Antipasti” options that include the freshest vegetables and spices. You will find that the markets will be your best friend as well! If you get lucky enough, you might even be able to try some of these delicious fruits and veggies before you buy them!

Raw Fish

By Madison Ross
And on this weeks edition… RAW FISH! This week’s theme at Ganzo had to be my personal favorite. Raw fish is the perfect way to welcome the upcoming season with some delicious, colorful plates. Italian’s are said to love raw fish because once you cook it in anyway, almost all of the nutrients are extracted. Fortunately at Ganzo this week, you will have a yummy and satisfying aperitivo full of vitamins and energy! “Pesce Crudo”, which translates to “raw fish”, is home to Italy’s coastline and then freshly presented to you on a plate! Some of the main ingredients on this week’s Ganzo edition included cured sardines, fresh salmon, white fish tartare, and a mixture of calamari and white fish topped with some crunch. This week at Ganzo was an aperitivo that you did not want to miss! Sushi is my all time absolute favorite, making this week’s aperitivo so special.

Throwback Week @ Ganzo

By Carson Light
The theme of this weeks ‘AperiGanzo’ at the Ganzo restaurant was Counterculture, with 60s and 70s influences. A main part of this time period was that post-war, more foods were available in surplus, i.e. store bought mayonnaise, milk, and pre-made sauces.
Foods that were primarily Italian began to infiltrate other countries and cultures. The US took the concept of pasta and turned it into mass produced ‘Spaghetti and Meatballs’, more specifically, bowtie pasta. Bowtie pasta was originally Italian, but mostly for children, as the shape made it easy to eat but the sauce did not hold well to it.
Another dish, Beef Tenderloin, was also over-produced in the US. As the head chef of Ganzo states, “Too many cows were killed during these years, just for this dish”. The dish was taken by Ganzo and turned into two delicious tender filets, served with a citrusy sauce and pepper.
The final dish was Chicken Ballotine, originally served with store-bought mayonnaise. The process includes a whole chicken, with the skin cut off. The chicken is seasoned with various herbs included fennel, garlic, carrots, etc. The liver is removed and frozen in a rolled shape. The entire chicken is poached and rolled all together to create a layered dish (below). Served with (of course) mayonnaise.

Weird Food

By Madison Marshall
Very weird food in Florence…
When one thinks about food in Italy, the usual suspects that come to mind include dishes such as home-made pasta, mouth-watering margherita pizzas, and fresh seafood. However, a new restaurant that has just opened in Florence has been catching a lot of “buzz” recently. The restaurant, wittily named Bug Appétit, serves a variety of insect-based dishes that have been taking the city by storm. I was finally able to get in touch with the owner, Marco Perini, who was happy to sit down with me and explain the reasoning behind his uncanny restaurant. I learned that he traveled across the world exploring new foods and was intrigued by the thought of serving insect-based dishes in a country where tradition is treasured more than anything else. He explained that the Italian diet from birth to death consists of pasta, cheese, cured meats, and seafood. He wanted to provide Italians a completely different culinary experience that strayed away from what they were used to. In his words he stated, “many individuals live their whole life never traveling, never exploring, and never leaving their comfort zones. What I am trying to do is bring all of those elements together in my cuisine to give customers a taste of the world.” From dishes such as queen ant egg tostadas to cricket, mealworm, and grasshopper burgers, the residents of Florence have fallen in love with Bug Appétit. I waited outside the restaurant after a busy Friday dinner service and spoke with Virginia and Bailey, a couple who had just left. They said they were hesitant to try something so foreign to them, but after having indulging in the caramel cricket cheesecake they couldn’t have higher praise for Perini’s restaurant. As for myself, I can’t wait to return to try the newest addition to the menu, black ant guacamole.

Dystopia and Italian Cuisine

By Amanda Smith
This past Wednesday, I went to Ganzo and was able to join table 21 and taste the delightful aperitivo. The theme of the Ganzo event this week was dystopia. The chef gave us a brief introduction of the time period and what was taking place in Italy during this time. He explained that from the 1960s-1970s this was a time of counterculture. This was an era of time that reflected a dark period. Following the war, reconstruction took place and people started to reproduce food industrially. Women wanted to have more time for themselves and premade food became more popular than it ever had been before.
This idea of premade food had never been considered before and seemed quite outrageous to Italians. The image of a woman cooking and cleaning in the house was substituted with the image of a woman squeezing a premade mayo bottle. These concepts were reflected in the aperitivos served at Ganzo this past Wednesday. The atmosphere of Ganzo was very lively. Everyone was friendly and eager for the aperativos to begin. There was a gallery viewing in addition to the event which made it even more special.
I tasted four dishes that the chefs presented. The first one consisted of crackers, sauce with ketchup and sun dried tomato, apple cider vinegar, shrimp, arugula and salt. They tried to replicate the simple, premade food from this time period. Their recipe did not consist of mayonnaise because they used healthier ingredients as substitutions. However, in this time period, mayonnaise was included in many meals.
There were also a lot of gelatin and cream used during this time period. The second aperitivo replicated a fish. This recipe included tuna mousse, lemon juice, parsley, and cherries. Biscuits were used on the side as well. The chef mentioned that recipes including gelatin were usually made for kids. This appeared to be a very kid friendly dish from the 1960s.
The third dish was sandwiches that consisted of cooked ham, a type of hard cheese called Italian Cheese, mozzarella, and smashed peas. This looked like a simple and easy to make dish for back in the day. The chef placed an emphasis on dishes that were pre-made and these sandwiches definitely looked like something that was made from this time period.
The fourth dish was pasta and it was my absolute favorite. It included a sauce with onion and white wine, raw salmon that was cooked to the temperature of the pasta, and poopy seeds. A common trend in these recipes were that they are simple and not time-consuming; considering women were more focused on other areas of their life at this time. Gelatin and Mayonnaise were common ingredients as well that Ganzo was able to substitute with other similar yet healthier ingredients. Overall, Ganzo did an excellent job of incorporating the theme into these recipes. I was able to taste delicious food while also learning about Italian cuisine in the 1960s.


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