Go gently into that good Tuscan kitchen

Piano, piano, pieno

Piano, piano, pieno
by Susan McKenna Grant,
Harper Collins, 435 pages. $34.95

(Canscene) –Thousands of Canadians have discovered an affinity for Tuscany in recent years, the majority renting villas for vacations, some buying property to which they return annually and a few even settling there permanently, in retirement.

But Canadian software expert Susan Mc Kenna Grant and her husband not only own a Tuscan farm, they’ve made it a paying concern producing a wealth of organic foods such as olives, grapes, wild boar and venison, and an agroturismo location offering meals and overnight accomodation. The farm, La Petraia, is located in the Chianti district.

Susan Grant’s book Piano, piano, pieno is more than a collection of traditional Italian recipes; it’s a tribute to the Tuscan countryside, amply illustrated with color and black-and-white photos and, beside the recipes, offering some fascinating glimpses into the origin of these meals and their ingredients.

Piano, piano, pieno is an Italian saying meaning literally “slowly, slowly full,” advice that good food can best be enjoyed at a leisurely pace. And that is how McKenna takes us through life on her farm.

The recipes from Tuscany and other locations in northern Italy mainly call for simple ingredients and, where necessary, offer substitute ingredients for components not easily found in Canada. (see Recipe section of this blog.)

The book is divided into the usual sections: antipasti, soups, primi and secondi piatti and dolci and opens with a wonderful chapter on breads including varieties like potato, chestnut and semolina bread.

There are many Tuscan cookbooks, but Piano, piano, pieno ranks with my other favourite regional book Leaves from our Tuscan Kitchen, or how to cook vegetables first published in 1899, written by another expatriate, Britain’s Janet Ross and republished, edited by her great-great nephew Michael Waterfield in 1973.

For a recipe from piano, piano, pieno click on recipe section.

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