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A Basket Full of Porcini

To know and love Tuscan cuisine is to fully embrace the Italian world of "funghi", The king of the crop is the Porcini, and this mushroom finds its way on to every dinner plate, into every kitchen and recipe going back generations. The markets are filled with endless varieties of mushrooms , enough to keep you at the stove all summer. But the real joy comes when one actually FINDS one of these beauties while walking in the woods. And so it was, on a summer day when we traveled to the tippy top of the Lucca province to a town called Lucchio. So steep were its streets and lanes, that you felt you might actually fall off if you stumbled backwards. After spreading a blanket under a large chestnut tree, the Chef went wandering - as Tuscan men are wont to due. Something in their DNA calls them to the hunt. And why not? It IS like a treasure hunt, and the findings are ever so rewarding! On this day after only 30 minutes, the hunter gatherer returned with no less than 6 giant procini and one lovely "ovolo". More than enough to share with Zia Verdiana and Zio Gianni over homemade pasta .... which we did. In case it occured to you that there could be poisonous shrooms out there - well yes, there are. But that's another blog.



Salt your pasta water "like the ocean"



Reserve some pasta water from the pan as a natural thickener for your sauce.



Remember: seafood pasta dishes never get cheese!

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