The general assertions made with respect to the cuisine characteristic of Pisa consist mainly of the reference to the poor peasant origins of the Tuscan gastronomy in general, conceding, at the same time, the presence of certain local specificities yielded by the use of fish and mushrooms. Yet, says of this kind considerably damage the genuinely rich cuisine of Pisa in particular and of Tuscany in general.

Thus, chief ingredients of local specialties refer to extra virgin olive oil, truffles, pulses, mushrooms, a large range of fruit, honey, beef, cheese, and certain salamis and hams, not to mention various wines. Fish is also used extensively, extremely enticing specialties being conceived on the basis of this gift of the sea. Ciechi alla Pisani, for instance, stands out as one of the oldest and still favorite dish made, in fact, of baby eels marinated in a mix of garlic, olive oil and, as the case may be, seasoned with sage and Parmesan cheese. Given the degree of endangerment of this species, the recipe has been adjusted and it now consists of whitebait.

Even in such circumstances, ciechi alla Pisani is a definite must-sample. Other species of fish are used either in combination with a large range of pulses, of which chickpea is said to be one of locals’ favorites, or as such. Dried cod (baccalà alla Pisana) and cacciucco (fish soup) are but two examples of top fish dishes. But speaking of chickpea, this ingredient is extensively used for the cooking of another local specialty called cecina, a flat bread widely popular with both locals and tourists. As far as pulses in general are concerned, they are so ever present that the people of Pisa and of Tuscany in general have been dubbed bean eaters (mangiafagioli). In this respect, zuppa di fagioli (bean soup) and ribollita (a thick soup the chief ingredients of which refer to beans and other vegetables, such as cabbage, carrots and onions and seasoned with various herbs) should not be overlooked by tourists visiting Pisa.

With respect to pastas, a common pasta dish is called pappardelle alle leper (noodles in hare sauce). Polenta can also make a good part of a typical first course in Pisa, but before getting go the first course, one must always try the so called crostini (toasted loaves of bread dipped in oil and seasoned with garlic and topped with tomatoes and anchovy, though imagination itself can contribute and vary the ingredients). Locally produced salamis, such as buristo and the wine salami, as well as the famous Tuscan hams, either cured or not, might very well blend in and add to the heartiness of a meal.

As far as desserts are concerned, Pisa is famous for its torta coi bischeri, whereas the so-called cantucci (almond biscuits dipped in the Vin Santo wine) are more advisable for those who want to start to wash down the meal earlier than expected. However, cheeses are an awesome alternative for the third course, managing to replace sweets as such with success. Pecorino (a type of cheese made of sheep milk) and ricotta (made either of sheep or cow whey milk) are said to be the most popular cheeses in Pisa. Yet, meals can also be complemented by the sweet flavored colombana grapes or by the Bientina melons.

Pisa Wines and Wine Roads

As far as wines are concerned, Pisa features a wide range of the Bacchant delight, varieties meant for drinking as such or for complementing the meals. Yet, the most notable and specific product of Pisa is the so-called Nettare di Bacco. All in all, the entire region of Pisa is crossed by two Wine Roads, which means that the production, as to its quantity and quality alike, is highly unlikely to fall short from the expectations one might have with respect to a city and to a region which turn wine production into a label of its identity.

Consequently, in the light of these considerations, one can hardly disesteem the gastronomic identity of Pisa, dainty feeders being assured that even their most unlikely culinary whims can be complied with by the richness of this Tuscan cuisine.

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