Tuscan cuisine is justifiably famous for its inventive combinations of simple, fresh ingredients chosen from an amazing variety of local products. Wild boar, extra-virgin olive oil, truffles, fresh pecorino cheese, and porcini mushrooms are all found here. Also raised locally are two special varieties of meat-producing animals: the Cinta Senese pigs (distinctive with white bands on a black body) and the Chianina breed of large, white-skinned cattle.
Siena's culinary traditions reflect the hearty tastes of Tuscany while carrying their own distinctive touches, but even classic sienese dishes vary according to the taste and imagination of the
Traditional Sienese dishes include:
- crostini neri, toasted bread with liver;
- pappardelle con lepre, ribbon-shaped pasta with a sauce made with hare,
- pici, long, extra-thick spaghetti with a rich sauce;
- ribollita, a slow-cooked dense, soup-like mixture of bread, beans and vegetables,
- scottiglia, slow-cooked meats served with a tomato sauce.
Siena is also famous for two special sweets: ricciarelli, the amazingly pure, almond-flavored cookies that literally melt in your mouth, and panforte, an ancient treat made with honey, dried fruit, nuts, spices and pepper that can be bought just about anywhere in town, either festively pre-packaged or by weight.
Many of Siena's restaurants are members of the Slow Food movement that stresses the use of local ingredients, traditional preparations and an awareness of and appreciation for what we eat. Consequently, eating out can be an event in itself, a theatrical experience in which food takes center stage and flavors are savored and discussed.. When offered such an opportunity it helps to remember an old Italian proverb: a tavola non s'invecchia mai...! (At the table you never grow old!)