By Christine Jackson
FLORENCE, Italy – There’s something to be said for simplicity, especially when it comes to food. Sometimes the best dishes are those that take a few great elements and let them speak for themselves.
Today we visited an artisan pasta factory and a mostly organic olive oil producer. Both create pure, simple products using the best process they can to create the highest quality goods. But there are other blog posts here to tell you all about that. Let’s get to the actual food.
For lunch we were served pasta dressed with just olive oil, served with fresh tomatoes and Parmigiano Reggiano on the side, to be added after tasting the pasta and oil on their own.
There was nothing fancy about it, but it was a perfect meal. Smooth, peppery olive oil over wide, wavy pasta made the way it should be, still steaming in its ceramic bowl. I could have eaten all of it just like that, but a little cheese and fresh tomato (especially the tomatoes in Tuscany) never hurt anybody. It was salty, savory, peppery, acidic, fresh-tasting and hearty all at the same time, with just four ingredients to carry the weight of an entire meal.
Over and over again, Italy has proved the value of quality over quantity. Most of what we’ve eaten here has been in smaller portions with fewer ingredients than most American dishes, but the flavors have been so much better.
Sometimes you don’t need the tomato sauce with meat and vegetables and herbs and spices and the rest of the pantry dumped inside. Sometimes all you need is the tomato.