Tuscan Taste

The Culinary Legacy of Impruneta: Terracotta

Impruneta, a quaint village nestled just a stone’s throw away from Florence’s bustling streets, boasts a unique heritage embodied in its distinctive terracotta. Characterized by its sturdy yet lightweight nature and iconic red hue, Impruneta terracotta has lent its charm to architectural marvels like the cupola of Florence’s duomo.

From jars to vases, tiles to shingles, every piece of Impruneta terracotta undergoes a meticulous two-day baking process at temperatures reaching 900 degrees Celsius. This transformative journey imbues the clay and marl with unparalleled resilience, making Impruneta terracotta resistant to both cold and heat.

Since the days of the Middle Ages, terracotta production has been intertwined with Italy’s cultural and culinary landscape. Legends abound of furnaces where shingles for Brunelleschi’s cupola were baked alongside pots brimming with peppered meats marinated in local wine—a nourishing fare for laborers toiling away on the construction of the iconic dome.

Photo: Dreamstime

Today, this culinary tradition lives on, accompanied by spirited debates over the ideal peposo recipe. Should tomatoes be included? Carrots and onions, perhaps? The only consensus lies in the generous use of black pepper—20 grams per kilogram of meat—a testament to the stew’s bold flavors.

Regardless of the recipe’s nuances, one unifying element remains: the indispensable terracotta dell’Impruneta pot. It is within these vessels that the peposo simmers to perfection, allowing the veal to tenderize until it practically melts in your mouth—a true testament to the enduring legacy of Impruneta’s terracotta tradition.

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