In addition to delicious-ness, Florence food is a testament to its culture and history. For that reason, food and drink is one of my favorite parts of visiting Tuscany’s most metropolitan city.
On my recent trip I got a Florence food experience unlike any other from Coral of Curious Appetite. Her knowledge on the topic is second to none and her enthusiasm for all things consumable was almost more exciting then the tastings – almost!
Is there a better way to spend a day in Florence than eating?
Curious Appetite is the brainchild of the delightful Coral, a Seattle-native who splits her time between the Great Northwest and Florence. Her tours showcase Tuscan and Florentine culture through food and drink. It might sound basic, but there is nothing basic about a day in Florence with Coral. It’s a party for your senses – sight, sound, taste, and smell. And, a whole lot of delectable details to nourish the brain.
What qualifies a person to give a food tour?
Coral fell in love with all things Italy during a 2005 visit to Florence. Upon return to Seattle she fed her fascination by majoring in Italian Language and Literature. Next, she studied food politics and anthropology in Rome and also attended the University of Foreigners in Perugia. Not enough? She’s also completed accredited food and wine certification programs including WSET Certification from the International Wine and Spirits Educational Trust in London and vocational training in Food and Wine Pairing from the Northwest Wine Academy in Seattle.
“I hope to show people the Italian food and drink culture with my tours,” said Coral. “I want them to experience first hand the difference between commercial, industrial foods, and artisan, craft foods.”
Florence Food and Drink: Beyond the Palate
Since my interests span a few of her tours she developed a program for me that combined her Wine & Food Pairing, Artisan Gelato Crawl, and Aperitivo Scene tours. Then, in the evening she took me for one of the coolest dinner experiences I’ve ever had – a Progressive Tuscan and Florence Dinner Crawl.
The richness of my Curious Appetite Florence food experience went beyond flavor. She also satisfied my hunger for cultural knowledge. I firmly believe you learn so much about a culture by understanding what they consume.
Florence Food Experience: Lampredotto for me. Lampredotto for you.
When Coral started talking about the traditional Florentine dish of lampredotto it introduced so much about the Florence food culture.
Much of the Tuscan cuisine of today remains rooted in the tradition of la cucina povera or peasant food. This food for the poor dates back to the post-war Depression era when resources and food were scarce. Creativity in the kitchen led to saltless bread, eggless pasta, and the old no-thing left behind policy – the Italian cooking tradition that dictates that every bit of an animal or ingredient is used in the kitchen.
That brings us to the aforementioned lampredotto, the fourth stomach of the cow. Truth? I didn’t even know a cow had four stomachs! Coral explained that once upon a time cow guts were a popular street food, peddled around town in carts during lunch. Apparently the once thriving Florence street food culture is dwindling as the younger generation is abandoning the practice. But, you can still find the odd static stand selling lampredotto swimming in spicy red tomato sauce, served in bowls or between bread. We had it as ravioli during our progressive dinner.
Artisan, Craft Food Stops
We visited a chocolate shop, a sandwich shop, numerous wine bars, and restaurants where I was spoiled with tastes and smells that I wouldn’t have been privy to without her. The locals adore her – and, not just because she brings them customers.
She knows the people, understands their cultures and traditions – and the kicker, she likes to learn from them. These shopkeepers and restaurant owners make time for her — and her clients — because she champions their efforts to keep the culture alive by imparting it to the everyday traveler. Not an easy feat when you consider how finicky people can be outside of their element.
The Curious Appetite Progressive Dinner Crawl is a testament to her relationships. In the States it’s easy to do a different place for happy hour, main, and / or dessert. But, Italy is a different story. When you go out for a meal you have everything in one place. Coral communicates her mission to the locations and they welcome her. The place we did aperitivo even worked with her to create a specialty wine and food pairing option to kick off our night of Florence food and wine treasures.
If you have a Curious Appetite…
Coral explained that she works to give her clients a basic sense of Italian food and wine pairing so they do not get intimidated selecting Italian wine or ordering at an Italian restaurant.
“I want my clients to leave inspired by the social aspects of Italian culture – something you don’t see everywhere,” said Coral. “I want people to have fun and relax knowing they are tasting and learning in a non-judgemental atmosphere.”
For more curious food and wine people she aims to introduce them to unique wine producers, to show a contrast in territories and styles, to really take them through the gastronomic identity of various Italian regions. Don’t get scared if she asks lots of questions when you book with her. She is doing it to give you a better Florence food experience.
Try it! Curious Appetite’s Florence Food and Drink Tours:
Rates vary by tour and group size. Tours generally run from 2.5 to 3.5 hours and can go longer for a customized tour. Click here to learn more and book.
I’ll be back in Florence next month for Round Two with Coral. Follow the gluttony on Instagram or Twitter – or subscribe to Girl’s Gotta Drink in the upper right. And, drop us a note with your favorite Florence activity!
Ciao ciao! Val