Traditions at table: what to eat and try out - Visit Pistoia
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Traditions at table: what to eat and try out

San Marcello Piteglio


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Enjoy the strong and genuine flavours of local cooking: your palate will be thanking you!

This area’s cooking is authentic and genuine, thanks mainly to the use of ‘poor’ ingredients, typical of a basically peasant culture linked is to the mountains, rich in chestnuts, porcini mushrooms, and blueberries, as well as its excellent beef and mutton products and its honey. Which are the dishes which you absolutely must taste when you come here?

1. I maccheroni sull’anatra – Maccheroni with duck sauce

A unique dish, typical of traditional Pistoia celebrations, and always served on 25th July for the celebration of Pistoia’s patron saint, Saint James. The main element of this dish is the Barbary, or Muscovy, duck typical of this area, with which a meat sauce is made and then served with fresh maccaroni, rolled out by hand, as tradition so requires.

2. Il carcerato – The prisoner

A soup prepared with stale bread, veal offal and grated cheese. This dish goes back a long way in the history of Pistoia’s cooking and is called ‘the prisoner’ because it used to be served in the Santa Caterina in Brana prison, which stood right next to the town’s slaughterhouse and consequently, the dish was prepared with its cheap, waste, leftover scraps.
It may not be a dish that suits everyone’s taste, but it is undoubtedly a very unusual and delicious one.

3. Castagnaccio (chestnut cake), necci (a galette made with chestnut flour), fritters and sweet polenta

Chestnut flour is certainly the principal food of the Pistoia Mountains; a highly nourishing food, known for its excellent quality. These cakes all use chestnut flour but in different ways; and sweet polenta can be used for savoury dishes as well, as it is sometimes served with sausages or anchovies. In autumn, village street parties are often arranged where “necci”, eaten with some excellent ricotta cheese, and chestnut cake (a cake enriched with nuts, raisins and rosemary) are the most appreciated dishes.