Food & Drink Magazine

A Tuscan Staycation

By Marialiberati

By: Morgan Weindel

This week’s episode will make listeners feel like they’re in the beautiful region of Tuscany.
Maria gives her listeners two delicious Tuscan recipes to make for their own Tuscan picnic. She
also sits down with author Andrew Cotto to discuss his connection with Italy.
From delicious food to amazing literature, listeners will feel as though they have been
transported to Italy in this week’s episode.
Traditional Tuscan Picnic Recipes
While many associate summer with barbecue, Maria associates summer with picnics. She tells
her listeners “Picnic season is here and no one does it better than the Tuscans.”
Although listeners cannot travel to Tuscany to experience the beautiful culture and amazing
food, Maria gives them two delicious recipes to help make a beautiful Tuscan picnic of their
own. Both recipes can be found below.
Tuscan Panzanella Salad
 12 slices of day-old bread
 4 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
 One cup of extra virgin olive oil
 Half a pound of red ripe tomatoes
 One red onion
 One fresh cucumber
 One handful of fresh basil leaves
 Pinch of Salt
 Freshly ground black pepper

  1. Slice the bread into 12 slices and place in a bowl with a quarter cup of water and a
    tablespoon of vinegar.
  2. Leave for 3 minutes and remove the liquid – squeeze the water out from the bread.
  3. Place the wet slices of bread on the bottom of a salad bowl.
  4. Top the bread with slices of tomato, cucumber and onion.
  5. Drizzle on the olive oil, 2 tablespoons of vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper and toss
    Grilled Porcini Mushrooms

 8 large porcini mushrooms
 2 cloves of garlic
 1 handful of fresh parsley
 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
 Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Clean the mushroom caps with a paper towel – do not put under the water but clean
    delicately with a damp paper towel.
  2. Chop the parsley and garlic.
  3. Place the mushroom caps, olive oil, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper into a bowl and
    marinate for 3 minutes.
  4. Turnover and marinate for another 3 minutes.
  5. Place the mushroom caps on a hot grill for 10 minutes or until they’re tender.
    Meet Andrew Cotto
    After giving listeners two delicious recipes to try, Maria sits down with author Andrew Cotto.
    Andrew is an author and professor of English and wrote the novel “Cucina Tipica: An Italian
    Growing up in an American-Italian family, Andrew had also been familiar with the Italian
    culture. He decided to visit Italy for the first time in his 30s and his life was changed forever. He
    lived in Italy for a year where he wrote one of his many novels, although it had nothing to do
    with Italy.
    Andrew came back to the United States to get his masters and work on some other novels. In
    2014, he spent the entire summer in Rome teaching at John Cabot University. He spent his
    weekends traveling across the country and gained enough knowledge to write “Cucina Tipica:
    An Italian Adventure.”
    The story is about an American man with a complicated life in New York. He escapes the
    complications and goes to Italy where he falls in love with the beautiful country.
    Andrew’s Italian Inspiration
    Andrew tells Maria how he developed a deep love for Italy during his first trip. Since then he
    tries to go once a year to expand his knowledge of the Italian culture. He tells Maria teaching in
    Rome at John Cabot University was “one of the best times of his life.”
    He tells listeners about his favorite places in Italy to visit, one being Antella, a small gorgeous
    village in Tuscany. With little to no tourism, this beautiful place is an ideal destination for
    people trying to get the full Tuscany experience.

Andrew tells Maria, “I think the secret is that there are no secrets. Everything is really good.”
His frequent trips to Italy inspired him to write the sequel to “Cocina Tipica: An Italian
Adventure.” Andrew tells listeners that the sequel is called “Cocina Romana” and will take place
in Rome.
He goes one to tell Maria, “The idea of Cocina Tipica is to transport you to Italy. It transports
you to Tuscany and I hope Cocina Romana transports you to Rome.”
The sequel to “Cocina Tipica” will be out in spring 2021 Andrew tells Maria. Listeners can find
his books on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your local bookstores.
What Does Food Mean to Andrew?
At the end of each episode, Maria likes to ask her guests what food means to them. Andrew
tells Maria that food is everything to him.
“To me, it’s universal connection between human beings. There are certain things that we all do as
human beings and those things, speaking in a communal sense, food is the best way to make
that connection with people.”
Andrew tells Maria and her listeners how much value food provides to people. He tells listeners
that on top of value, food brings wellness. Andrew says, “Eating well and drinking well in Italy
isn’t a privilege, it’s a right.”

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