“Poor Tuscans. The art and genius of transforming scarcity into extraordinary recipes "is the new essay by Maria Salemi, where among polenta, stews and boiled meats we also find a recipe with a slightly bizarre name:" Sbroscia ", in fact, which perhaps does not make thanks to this extraordinary dish of our peasant tradition.

At the restaurant Il Pratellino, in Florence, I meet Maria, who tells me the secrets and anecdotes related to this tasty Tuscan recipe.

“La Sbroscia has an unpleasant name - says Maria - I had a friend who was from Pesciatino and he often said 'this is a sbroscia' when he refused some dish because he considered it too soupy. Because in the Pistoia area 'sbroscia' means 'crushed snow'. What I wanted to report in my book is the Versilian tradition of this dish based on toasted dark bread, beans and yellow squash. All enriched with herbs; a recipe that has a strong but pleasant taste and that seems to originate in some Franciscan monastery. A dish where there must be broth for the bread, but in the right quantity. "

the Sbroscia, taken from the book Poveri Toscani

Not only recipes but a tasty journey into the Tuscan food culture of the past, when great masterpieces were born with little, an era in which the raw materials had a smell and a texture that today we can hardly find.

“In my book I dealt with cooking made with bread,” - continues the author - “aquacottas and soups that make up two different chapters. Then the various types of bread and all those recipes that are made with flour: wheat, corn, chickpeas, that of the breadfruit, that of chestnut. A chapter is dedicated to those dishes made with blood, because once many recipes were based on this ingredient, not only sausages but also migliacci, roventini and so on. And then the cooking of flowing and stagnant water, then the swamps, the frogs, etc… Many dishes that I tell in my book maybe nobody will make them, but it seemed unfair not to tell the tradition ”.

Even the cooking times today are very different from those of the past, as are the consistency and smell of the food.

“Now unfortunately we are going towards the deodorized, towards the preparation and many people do not like to see the shape of the animal. I remember that when I went into the butcher's shop as a young man there was the carcass of the animal hanging dripping blood in the sawdust, I was a child and it didn't affect me at all, we were used to these things. Poor cuisine of the past also means enjoying that texture, that taste and that smell that is now defined as stink and that before was simply the smell of raw food. "

In the book of Maria Salemi there are precisely the poor dishes of the past that today have paradoxically become expensive, and often not easily executable, at the base of which there was always the seasonality of the raw material.

Maria Salemi, Milko Chilleri, Francesco Carzoli

"The flavors that are obtained from an ingredient produced in season are not remotely comparable to those that we find out of season" - he says Francesco Carzoli, restaurateur in Florence - "today unfortunately we are used to finding everything and always, but this is something we will have to take good care of and put into practice."

“Poveri Toscani” is an essay that the author dedicates to the new generations, with a recommendation.

"You can eat well by doing things yourself, using your hands, eyes and smell." - says Maria - “Knowing how to accept the diversity of food of the past compared to that of today. Today we go towards the slice, ready-to-eat food, pret a manger and so on, certain types of cuisine took time, these are things that need to be rediscovered, and young people should learn to recover them. "