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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First impressions on a Florentine foodie’s habits

By Emily Boyer & Samantha Burkett
Florentine and Italian cuisine in general is known for its diversity at a geographical level, as well as it’s abundance of taste and seasonings, but its main characteristic is its simplicity. One thing that I’ve noticed about the dishes here is that chefs count on the quality of the ingredients that they use rather than the complexity of the preparation of their foods. I’ve also come to the realization that many of the city’s most traditional dishes are probably not exactly what we think they are. The Florentine people, like many Italians, have a very important relationship with their food. They seem to have very stern rules about what can be eaten when, with what to accompany certain foods, and in what particular order you can eat them. You can even tell what month of the year it is by looking at a menu in Florence. Florentine food is also very historical. Each dish seems to have a story behind it that reflects the long durations of the city’s traditions. There’s something about the fact that you can picture how many dishes were cooked in Medieval times, because it is indeed how they are still cooked and prepared today.
After just a few days in Florence, you will notice that they go by a very different food itinerary. First, it’s important to know that breakfast in Italy usually consists of baked goods and an espresso drink, which I’ve learned to get from a café where all of the pastries are baked on-site.
Italians also take part in what’s called a “merenda.” Around 12 pm they usually grab a snack at a local bar or food shop, with a coffee or even a glass of prosecco. This is something I feel like a lot of foreigners are not aware of, and that I found to be quite interesting. I think this is a quick and easy way to grab a snack during a work break or even while walking to and from class in the morning. As lunch time rolls around, many Italian may stop by one of the local food carts for the Florentine specialty of “lampredotto” which is prepared with the 4th stomach of a cow. Personally, I have not indulged in this delicacy, but a quick stop at a local panini stand can also serve the same purpose.
After lunch, Italians may treat themselves to a mid-day gelato to hold themselves over until “aperitivo” comes around. Once 7 pm hits, Italians partake in this tradition, which is typically served buffet-style and a consists of a drink such as Florence’s signature negroni or a glass of prosecco and a few salty snacks such as chips or peanuts, with some cured meats & cheeses. Some locations will be even more formal with the aperitivo and set out some buffet-style foods, while other places might just offer appetizers from the menu to enjoy with their friends and family on the lovely streets of Florence. I have also just recently discovered at an aperitivo that sometimes the food consists of leftovers from that specific day’s lunch service.
Lastly, after the aperitivo comes dinner. For dinner, I think it is important to research what dishes to eat according to what time of the year you will be in Florence, as the dining culture revolves around the solar calendar. You can also ask the waiter what dish is currently in season.
I’ve come to learn that eating like a Florentine is luckily a very easy thing to do. The locals are proud of the way they eat and are determined to not lose their traditional eating habits to tourism. Maybe it’s obvious, but there is something comforting about knowing that no matter what happens or how much time passes, the Florentines are still going to be eating their beloved dishes.

Pizzeria Ristorante i Tarocchi

Review by Meaghan Hunter, Stephanie Isidorio, Hannah Kohl, Alana Keenan, Odri Hernandez
Pizzeria Ristorante I Tarocchi is a very enjoyable restaurant for customers of all types. ​Depending on where you live in Florence it may be more of a walk to get there, but we can all confidently say that it was worth it. On Saturday night, it began to fill up around 7:30 so having a reservation is a good choice to be guaranteed a table. However, you would not require a reservation if you are going for lunch during a weekday. The restaurant is not overly fancy and is decorated in a rustic Italian style. Not many tourist were there, but a lot of locals. It really embraces the subtle ambiance of Florence and it’s traditions. It is very inviting and comfortable.
We were all cheerfully greeted by multiple workers as we stepped inside. The wait staff was pleasant and very accommodating. Many Italian families filled the restaurant, and when children were a part of the dinner party, the waiters offered them small toys and coloring books to use at the table. The parents were thrilled that the children were occupied and they could socialize with each other. It’s always a good sign when a restaurant is filled with local Italians because they ​​know their pizza and pasta! We took it as a sure sign we would get some really good food.
Between our group, we got a taste of everything. The wine menu was small, only about 7 different bottles to choose from but they were all reasonably priced Tuscan wines. The Chianti Classico is a great choice as it was one of the least expensive but tasted like it could’ve been more costly. Per our server’s recommendation we tried the Pizza Tarocchi. This was topped with ​Stracchino, zucchini, sausage, onions, fresh tomatoes, and mozzarella. It was absolutely delicious. The vegetables on top were fresh and flavorful and the cheeses were perfectly melted. Even the basic Pizza Margarita was outstanding and the crust was thick and cooked perfectly. One group member got the pear ravioli as an appetizer just because it looked so good passing by us on another customer’s plate. It was so unique smothered in gorgonzola cheese; this was a hit for everyone, even some of us said it was the best food they had all semester. We also tried the bruschetta because since we have been in Florence, it has been one of our favorite snacks. This bruschetta was ​so ​good- the tomatoes tasted like they were picked straight from a garden. As for desert, all the options in the display case looked delightful, but some of us were too full to even try one.
This is a place that would be highly recommended to anyone looking for a good meal and/or exceptional pizza. Also a great place to go for those looking to get a more traditional Italian meal away from the tourist areas. Inviting to people of all ages, it is a great setting for family gatherings, meeting up with friends, or even a simple date night. The menu has something to offer for everyone and the staff is very accommodating to any needs. Not to mention the prices are more than reasonable. A complete, delicious, meal can be bought for under 20 euro. If looking for just some pizza you can spend around 10 euros and have it be a filling meal. An amazing experience and the food was incredible. Pizzeria Ristorante I Tarocchi​ can expect to see us again!

Pizzeria Ristorante I Tarocchi
Via dei Renai 12-14R
Tel. 055 234-3912
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday lunch 12:30-3:00pm, dinner 7:00pm-12:00am; Sundays dinner 7:00pm-12:00am. Closed Mondays

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.


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