Known as the unofficial mascot of Tuscany, wild boar, or “cinghiale” as it’s known in the vernacular, has the dubious honour of being both a local emblem and a local delicacy. It should, then, come as no surprise that despite the rather conflicting status of this animal – eaten and revered in equal measure – it features as a statue in Florence. Known locally as “Il Porcellino”, it’s said to be good luck to touch the nose of this bronze beast! Indeed, we certainly touched his nose during the last visit we made to Florence. The animals forage in local woodlands – mainly concentrated around the coastal area of Maremma – occasionally causing mischief in vineyards and even gardens, but this doesn’t stop Tuscans from savouring the rich, gamey flavour they lend to local dishes.
Our ragù follows the time-honoured Tuscan method of gently stewing the wild boar with red wine, juniper berries and plenty of tomatoes – a dish known locally as “cinghiale in umido” – until rich and luxuriant. We serve, as local tradition prescribes, with freshly made pici, a pasta shape similar to, but thicker than, spaghetti. Pici originate in Siena, which, alongside Florence, is renowned as one of Tuscany’s jewels. The next time you’re in beautiful Siena, perhaps you could stay in nearby Montepulciano, one of our favourite towns in Toscana. Do pop by “Il Tosco”, a charming boutique hotel owned & managed by our friend Luca Barbi.