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The “snack in the evening” tradition
In Tuscany and Piedmont very old tradition named “sinoira snack”, literally “snack in the evening” still survives. The owners of the land offered the evening snack to the peasants in the periods of more intense work in the field, then in the summer and in the fall. They consumed a real dinner however, in the late afternoon and outdoors, together with other workers. The farmers used this break to have more energy for the next four or five hours of hard work. People considered good or bad every master according to the foods offered during this “snack”. It was not an obligation but the farmers, often poor people, counted on it. What they eat mostly? Plenty of fresh bread with the specialties of the land, with a glass of red wine.
During a Chianti tour you can happen to have a Tuscan snack, because it is part of the kindness and generosity of the local people: this snack will consist of a good glass of wine, a few slices of bread and extra virgin olive oil: this oil is, like the wine, a great Tuscan product and often it happens to visit wineries that produce both great wines like Chianti and Super Tuscans, and high quality extra virgin olive oil.
Wine and olive oil clay amphora
It is easy to identify the farms that produce both wine and olive oil because you’ll see big “jars” here and there, to characterize the wineries. These huge clay rounded amphora (proudly made in Tuscan, too) keep oil since classical antiquity. The ancient Romans, Greeks and Egyptians also preserved and exported oil and other precious foods in these attractive containers and so do now the Tuscan olive oil makers.
The other star of the snack is certainly the bread: Tuscany bread is special because it is without salt. This tradition goes back at least to the XII century when the city of Florence came to quarrel with the maritime republic of Pisa. Pisa besieged Florence and people got short of salt, since it came just from Pisa. Pride Florentines decided to do without the salt. Later, the salt-free bread has become a tradition, being suitable with the very tasty Tuscan specialties.
So, if you happen to make a peasant snack during one of our Tuscan wine tour, do not be surprised of the lack of salt in bread; just think you’re enjoying a thousand-year bite of tradition, made with the best local flours. That’s why it has a special, unmistakable scent of toasted hazelnuts that goes perfectly with a glass of Chianti.