by Nancy Harmon Jenkins
From the first page, Nancy Harmon Jenkins draws you deep into the soul of Tuscany, where she lives part of the year and where tradition heavily shades daily life. Jenkins calls Tuscans “the Yankees of Italy” because they are as frugal and plainspoken as the New Englanders with whom she grew up. Their food is elementally simple, relying heavily on the region’s unique, salt-free bread, pane sciocco, the intense olive oil that has become famous around the world, and beans slowly cooked in a tall clay pot, or fiasco. Jenkins enthralls the reader as she discusses Tuscan food and how her friends and neighbors gather, raise, and prepare it. Flavors of Tuscany is dense with good food. There are roasts, the bread-based soup ribollita, crostini, and less-known pleasures such as tomato-studded High Summer Risotto and Braised Sweet Pepper Stew. Jenkins’s observations about a fast-changing way of living resonate with anyone who cares about quality of life. Her culinary descriptions may inspire you to build an outdoor brick oven or plan a trip to taste the wines, olive oil, and other special flavors of Tuscany.