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Maremma cuisine is closely linked to its simple and frugal origins, which, conditioned by a direct relationship between Land and Sea, evolved over time, from the Etruscans, to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, all the while maintaining some of its basic foundations.
Its bread is “sciapo” - or unsalted – as it is throughout Tuscany. This makes it much more versatile and suitable to be eaten with both sweet and savoury dishes, in certain cases even replacing pasta, which is much less popular in this region than in the rest of Italy.
Olive oil has always played a primary role in the kitchen, in commerce and in the culture of these places, and is called for in almost all the local recipes, such as the classic “fettunta”, “bruschetta” and traditional vegetable and fish soups, such as “ribollita”, “acquacotta” and “caldano”.
The most commonly used meats in Maremma are pork and game, despite the fact that according to some sources it was in this area that these dishes became popular among the “butteri” - or local cowboys.
On the subject of game, hare and wild boar take pride of place in traditional Maremma cuisine and are also used to make sauces and stews. Wild boar is also used to make ham, salami and sausages, known locally as “buristo”.
Other typical meat recipes are “buglione”, made with lamb and “scottiglia”, which is made with veal, rabbit, pork, chicken and guinea fowl. Both recipes produce a thick sauce that is spread on bruschette.
As attested by the discovery of numerous ruins and artefacts along the coast, fish has always been a staple in this region: Caparbio eel is especially large and tasty, as are monkfish, clams and bonito.
“Caldaro” is a traditional fish soup from the Argentario area, between Capalbio and Porto Santo Stefano, with rockfish, monkfish, John Dory, cuttlefish, octopus and mantis shrimp.
Another recipe made with small fish is “scaveccio”, the Maremma version of the Neapolitan “scapece”, in which the fish is washed, dried and floured then fried in abundant oil and left to marinate for a few days in aromatic vinegar.
There are also tonnina and bottarga, respectively tuna filet and pressed roe, which are cured with salt and served in thin slices or grated with toast, eggs or pasta.
Cheeses are generally made from sheep and goat's milk, and are often flavoured with black peppercorns, red chilli peppers or truffles.
The Maremma area is also known for its wines, the most famous of which is Morellino di Scansano, a full-bodied red that is perfect with savoury meat dishes and cold meats.
As well as Morellino di Scansano, Maremma produces other important DOC wines, such as Bianco di Pitigliano, Rosso di Sovana, Sangiovese delle Maremma Toscana, Caparbio, Parrina, Monteregio di Massa Marittima and Montecucco.
And last but not least, the extremely pure saffron, cultivated on the Maremma hills, must not be overlooked.